225415 Seniors: A tale of two populations affected by a disaster

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tasha Stehling-Ariza, MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Akilah Banister, MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
David M. Abramson, PhD MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Seniors and elderly populations exposed to disasters may represent pathways towards resilience or vulnerability that are different than younger populations. We examined a senior population, age 65 years and older, displaced or greatly impacted by Hurricane Katrina as part of the Gulf Coast Child and Family Health study, a longitudinal cohort of 1,079 randomly selected households. On average, the seniors had adapted fairly well to the stressors of the displacement and reported a greater degree of recovery and mental well-being than younger populations. When interviewed last, seniors had mental component summary (MCS) scores 5 points higher and a 45% greater odds of reporting recovery than their younger counterparts. This may be explained, in part, by stable sources of health insurance (Medicare) and household income streams (Social Security) that were relatively unaffected by the hurricane. Significantly lower need for financial help with housing, utilities, and food supports this theory. Despite these positive findings, a particular subgroup of seniors appeared to experience another pathway that may represent maladaptation in that they suffered from a constellation of problems such as significantly lower MCS and physical component summary scores (p<0.01), and at least twice the financial need of better-off seniors (p<0.01). This analysis describes these two distinct senior populations and how they compare to a younger population and explores the characteristics that are associated with each trajectory.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the two pathways towards resiliency or vulnerability experienced by seniors in the Gulf Coast Child and Family Health study.

Keywords: Elderly, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I oversee all data collection and analysis conducted for this abstract.
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.

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