A guidebook entitled, "Identifying Vulnerable Older Adults and Legal Options for Increasing Their Protection During All-Hazards Emergencies: A Cross-Sector Guide for States and Communities" has been published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (Report can be viewed here.) The report, with its whopping mouthful of a title, provides good info for assisting and engaging older adults, caregivers, and communities for emergency planning.
We would have liked to have seen the report address alerting and warnings for older adults. Figuring out best practices for making sure older adults are well informed in an emergency is something we hear emergency managers talk about often. There are creative approaches being used, some of the most successful center around the concept that caregivers of older adults (family members, professionals) need to be a part of the process.
In a paper we drafted called, "Alerting the Whole Community: Removing Barriers to Alerting Accessibility", we pointed out that mobile technology approaches should not be ruled out as a way to help reach older adults. First, people over age of 65 should not be automatically lumped into a technophobe category. In a 2010 survey of Americans, Pew Research Center found that 68% of adults between the ages of 66-74 owned a cell phone, and 48% of adults over the age of 75 owned a cell phone. A variety of alert and warning approaches uses cell phones, including the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) initiative deployed around the nation that broadcasts text-like alerts to cell phones in an area for imminent threats, AMBER Alerts, and Presidential emergency messages.
Certainly, use of mobile devices is not the complete answer for making sure older adults are effectively alerted, but using them will help. We're interested in hearing some of the approaches you've used. We'll share them in a future post. You can either comment on-line here, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (She's our expert on older adults.)
Meantime, read the CDC report, and let me know at email@example.com if you're interested in a draft of the white paper on alerting the whole community.
All the best,