RESILIENT COMMUNITIES: EMPOWERING OLDER ADULTS IN DISASTERS AND DAILY LIFE
Goldman, L., Finkelstein, R., Schafer, P., Pugh, T.
“Drawing on the lessons of Superstorm Sandy, a new report from The New York Academy of Medicine, ‘Resilient Communities: Empowering Older Adults in Disasters and Daily Life,’ presents an innovative set of recommendations to strengthen and connect formal and informal support systems to keep older adults safe during future disasters.”
The recommendations for how to help elderly in disasters were as follows:
- Older adults in underserved neighborhoods should be trained to identify and link vulnerable people with community assets (e.g., health care, social services, benefits, food) under routine conditions and during emergencies.
- Older adults and informal caregivers should be provided with access/ training on multiple forms of communication and technology.
- Landlords with large concentrations of older adults and mobility-impaired people should be supported in planning to meet the needs of these populations in disasters.
- Employees of city services, local businesses, cultural institutions, and others who routinely interact with older adults should be trained in identifying and providing health and human service referrals to those who may be in need of assistance before, during, after, and outside of an emergency.
- Communities should be assisted in organizing Community Resilience Hubs housed at appropriate and accessible institutions within each neighborhood to facilitate communal planning partnerships, and to serve as a central repository for information and supplies during an emergency.
- Providers of essential services to older adults should develop contingency plans to ensure the needs of their patients and clients will be met during disasters and emergencies. The City should extend MOUs and set funding policies in advance to enable providers to expand their reach during disasters.
- Coordinate mental health, spiritual care, and psychological first aid with non-stigmatized disaster response and recovery services.
- Academia, city agencies, and community-based organizations should develop and implement appropriate metrics to indicate how vulnerable populations are affected by and assisted in disasters.
- The City should consult older people, caregivers, and service providers on their experiences with and perceptions of the public shelter system.
- The training for professional and volunteer first responders should include information on the needs of older adults in disasters, as well as on the cultural, linguistic, and developmental competencies that may be required to meet those needs.
- New York State should enact a disaster pharmacy law to provide a regulatory framework for pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense medication when a state of emergency is declared.
- New York State should enact bill S.4719/A.6530, which will require counties and cities to consult with home health care and hospice providers on emergency plans and to include provisions in those plans for the deployment of home health care and hospice personnel.
The New York Academy of Medicine focuses on advancing the health and well-being of people living in cities. through research, evaluation, policy, and program initiatives. The organization focuses on healthy aging, disease prevention, and eliminating health disparities.
Elderly Emergency Response
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