Preparing an Older Generation

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Older person in a walker.

The generation that brought us the Internet, the civil rights movement, tie-dye and classic rock, is turning 65. It is estimated that nearly 7,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, and by the year 2030 most of the baby boomers will be entering their elderly years. As the largest generation prepares for retirement and senior living, we must consider how to prepare this population for disasters.

Older adults may have a more difficult time preparing for or reacting in an emergency, especially those who live alone, have limited mobility or rely on a caregiver. If you or someone you love is part of this growing population of older adults, we have tips to help you be ready for an emergency or disaster.

Have a Support NetworkBuild a Support Network graphic

Nearly 28 percent of all older adults live alone, and close to half of older women live alone. It is important for all older adults, but especially those who do live alone, to have a support network they can rely on in case of an emergency. Your support network should consist of close friends, family members, caregivers or neighbors, who can provide assistance and ensure you are alright before, during and after a disaster. Make a plan with the people in your support network and let them know important information about your medical and mobility needs. Consider sharing an extra house key with neighbors so they can check on you during a disaster and let them know where you keep emergency supplies and medication. It is important to be able to contact your support network during a disaster to let them know you are alright or if you need help. Know how you would get in contact with them if the power went out, and practice contacting them in this way.

Emergency Kit

When making an emergency kit include medications, medical devices, and instructions on special assistance you need. Keep a list of important doctors’ names and phone numbers, medical documents, medications, prescriptions and instructions in a waterproof container to protect against damage and ensure easy access. When determining what medications and medical supplies to include in your kit, think about what you would need over the span of a week if you had to evacuate or shelter in place. Consider personal needs such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, batteries, and oxygen. Make sure your emergency kit has all the essential items you need in addition to the basics; water, food, flashlight and a first aid kit.

Update Important Documents

Make sure during an emergency you have access to the most up-to-date information. Take time to update important documents including medical records, wills, deeds, financial information, and insurance cards. In addition, make sure to have updated lists of doctors’ names and phone numbers and your medications and dosages in your emergency kit. Having all your medical and financial information up-to-date and in a secure location can help during and after an emergency to ensure you get the help you need.

Learn Technology

young adult african girl with senior parents using tablet computDuring an emergency, electricity and phone lines may not work properly. Older adults should learn alternative methods to communicate with their support network and loved ones during emergencies, as well as be familiar with resources that can provide important disaster alerts and updates. Texting can be a good alternative way to communicate during a disaster if phone lines and cell service is compromised or limited. Make sure you know how to text before an emergency and practice contacting your family and support network. Also, consider receiving cell phone alerts that notify you of serve weather or disaster in your area. Be sure you recognize what these alerts look like and know how to properly respond.

For a real life example of the importance of support networks and preparing older adults for disaters, read Donna’s story. Donna, a blind elderly woman living alone in Iowa, did not realize it when her house started to flood.

For more information for older adults on preparing for an emergency visit: Healthy Aging.

How have you prepared the older adults in your life for emergencies?

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One comment on “Preparing an Older Generation”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    This blog gives important information in caring for the elderly people not only in our immediate family, but illustrates our responsibility to those in our community that may need our help. Preparing a disaster plan in advance offers a sense of direction and purpose to a very stressful situation which can ultimately save lives. Getting to know our neighbors and the elderly population in our neighborhood strengthens our communities and provides a fabric of trust and compassion that is vital in times of disaster. Preparation and organization is key when faced with the threat of evacuation or impending disaster. So get to know your neighbors and make a plan that can be practiced before you are faced with a stressful event.

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Page last reviewed: September 15, 2014
Page last updated: September 15, 2014