Presidential Symposium: Older Adult During Disasters: Facilitators and Barriers in Less and More Developed Countries

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Disasters are catastrophic events that suddenly and adversely affect populations. International humanitarian support is routinely offered after disasters to alleviate human suffering and facilitate the recovery process. Policymakers and responders use their knowledge and experiences to develop and implement systematized strategies that can be followed during disasters. Yet despite these efforts, the rate of disaster-related morbidity and mortality for older adults remains significantly higher than the general population. Because disasters occur without warning it is difficult to test and enhance strategies and protocols that are intended to mitigate threats and hazards and to quickly and effectively resolve their negative consequences. By identifying persistent challenges encountered during disasters and considering issues facing an aging population, organizations responsible for disaster response may be better attuned to the changing needs of the population and more able to address older adults in their planning and training processes. This symposium will feature five speakers representing Cameroon, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Nepal, Philippines, and the United States. Presentations will describe actual disasters and the challenges and opportunities for preparing and responding to older adults during disasters in countries with varied financial, material, and human resources. Older adults displaced during disasters, assistance during displacement, as well as during return and reintegration after the event will be described. Finally, we will discuss why so many identified problems remain unresolved over time and how disaster managers might adapt lessons learned into processes so that they are culturally sensitive, relevant, and useful in affected regions.

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Innovation in Aging, v. 1, issue suppl_1, p. 997