Title: Disaster preparedness: older adults' perspectives

Authors: R. Tuohy; C. Stephens; D. Johnston

Addresses: School of Psychology/Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand ' School of Psychology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand ' School of Psychology/Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

Abstract: This paper focuses on age-specific disaster preparedness for older adults in order to reduce the disproportionate negative outcomes experienced by older adults during and after a disaster. Semi-structured interviews (16) were conducted in New Zealand with independent older adults living in the community. Thematic analysis provided rich detail about older adults' personal, social and cultural influences on preparedness. Age-specific challenges revealed practical and functional demands around the nature of preparedness actions associated with caring for a dependent spouse, reduced physical mobility, and loss of driving skills. Social networks and opportunities for interaction, together with socio-cultural norms of independence influenced how older adults negotiated disaster preparedness in non-disaster times. These results are discussed within a socio-cultural context, and suggest that age-specific planning for this vulnerable population group needs to account for the dual challenges older adults face: managing everyday independence, and personal responsibility for adopting and maintaining disaster preparedness.

Keywords: independent older adults; disaster preparedness; emergency management; vulnerability; qualitative; social networks; New Zealand; spouse dependancy; physical mobility; driving skills; emergency planning; vulnerable population groups.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEM.2015.069516

International Journal of Emergency Management, 2015 Vol.11 No.1, pp.46 - 61

Available online: 19 May 2015 *

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