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New Report Offers Recommendations on Future Emergency Responses for Seniors

Drawing on the lessons of Superstorm Sandy, a new report from The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM), “Resilient Communities: Empowering Older Adults in Disasters and Daily Life,” presents a set of recommendations to strengthen and connect formal and informal support systems to keep older adults safe during future disasters.  To view the report, click here.

Following the 2012 superstorm, tens of thousands of older adults were isolated in high-rise buildings and private homes, in need of food, water, heat, medical attention and medication. This report looks at not just the vulnerabilities of older adults, but at the role many can play in leading and supporting their communities during disasters. Its findings are especially important for policymakers; city, state, and federal agencies; community and faith-based organizations; health care and housing providers; and emergency management personnel. While the report looks at the experience of older adults in New York City, it has implications for communities across the U.S.

The report draws on data collected immediately after Superstorm Sandy, and interviews with older adults, experts and leaders of community-based organizations in affected neighborhoods. It presents four key findings about the experience of older adults post-Sandy:

  • Formal and informal social networks influenced older adults’ decisions and facilitated their access to information and assistance;
  • Because older people had not been engaged in emergency planning, emergency services were often inadequate, inappropriate, or inaccessible, and basic and health care needs went unmet;
  • Older adults actively supported their communities before, during, and after Superstorm Sandy; and
  • The local neighborhood infrastructure was a critical factor in meeting the needs of older people within affected communities.

The report recommends 12 action steps toward community preparedness, including establishing community planning hubs in each neighborhood, supporting landlords with large concentrations of older adults, enacting a pharmacy law for disasters and consulting with home health care and hospice providers on emergency plans.

Funded by the New York Community Trust and the Altman Foundation, the report builds on the platform of Age-friendly New York City, a public-private partnership led by NYAM to enhance city life for older adults.

Donald Manning, JASA’s director of housing and LeadingAge NY Housing Cabinet member, served on the report’s advisory committee.

Contact: Ken Harris, kharris@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8835