Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Heide Castañeda, PhD

Committee Member

Kevin Yelvington, PhD

Committee Member

Linda Whiteford, PhD

Committee Member

Jaime Corvin, PhD

Committee Member

Lisa Brown, PhD

Committee Member

David Chiriboga, PhD


disaster preparedness, health literacy, home and community-based care, informal caregivers, risk fatigue


The aim of this dissertation is to explore how informal caregivers for people with dementia (PWD), who are community dwelling (i.e., not in nursing homes), prepare and plan for disasters. The research site is a particularly hurricane-prone region of Florida, second only to New Orleans in its vulnerability. An underlying assumption of this research is that caregivers for PWD have to plan and anticipate problems that are unique to their role. The rationale for the study described here is that disaster planning and mitigation save lives (Tengs et al. 1995), but there is little or no literature on disaster planning for the frail elderly and their caregivers.

Mixed methods design which includes: 1) participant observation; 2) staff interviews (n=8);3) preliminary caregiver interviews (n=5); 4) baseline chart/disaster plan review (n=290);5) intervention (presentation to staff and administration) and form revision; 6) follow-up chart/ disaster plan review (n=259); 7) caregiver survey(n=253);8) final caregiver interviews (N=15- total number of caregiver interviews 20); 9) disaster literacy testing (n=20); 10) final group interview with ACC administration.

This work documents the way that caregivers talk about disaster planning and say they will do if a hurricane strikes and reflects on their past hurricane experiences. Major findings include gaps in the county run Special Needs Shelter services available in Florida for people with dementia. The response and difficulty that caregivers might face can depend on the stage of the disease.