224701 Social Isolation and Disaster Preparedness in Senior Adults

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

John Staley, PhD, MSEH , Department of Health Policy and Management, College of Public Health, Kent State University, Kent, OH
Sonia Alemagno, PhD , Department of Health Policy and Management, College of Public Health, Kent State University, Kent, OH
Peggy Shaffer-King, MA , College of Public Health, Kent State University, Kent, OH
The vulnerability of seniors in an emergency is a national priority, but the general preparedness level of older adults to respond to disasters is uncertain, particularly in those individuals who may be socially isolated and lacking support mechanisms. The objective of this study was to query a sample of seniors across Ohio to determine their social isolation, and how other risk factors impact preparedness.

Methods: Senior adults in Ohio (n=1,496) participated in a preparedness survey. Questions included general readiness, knowledge of preparedness, plans in the event of an emergency, medical conditions and social isolation.

Results: Analysis of self-reported preparedness indicated that 534 participants (37%) reported low or modest self-preparedness for a disaster, and 978 participants (66%) reported modest or high social isolation levels. Gender (β= -5.81, p<.001), age (β= -1.65, p<0.10), race (β= 7.18, p<0.01), location (urban, suburban, rural) and social isolation (β= 1.67, p<0.09) were significantly predictive of preparedness level. Conclusion: Seniors lack many provisions considered necessary for home sheltering and sustainability during a disaster, and social isolation is directly correlated with senior preparedness levels. Future interventions should target social isolation and basic food, prescription, and medical preparedness needs of susceptible seniors.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this session, participants will: 1) Identify the level of social isolation existing among senior adults, and its subsequent impact on disaster preparedness. 2) Distinguish the variety of factors that impact senior disaster preparedness, and compare preparedness level among urban, suburban, and rural seniors.

Keywords: Aging, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conduct research on disaster preparedness and aging/older adults as a university faculty member.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.