Senior Disaster Preparedness


Multiracial_SeniorsDisasters of all kinds affect older adults disproportionately, especially those with chronic diseases, disabilities or conditions that require extra assistance to leave an unsafe area and recover from an event. The reasons why some older adults are particularly vulnerable during and after disasters include their impaired physical mobility, diminished sensory awareness, chronic health conditions, and social and economic limitations that prevent adequate preparation and hinder adaptability during disasters.[1]

For this reason, every individual should take steps to prepare for all possible kinds of emergencies. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan that fits those needs, you and your loved ones can be better prepared.[2]

Traditionally, after any major disaster, the public health sector focuses on safe water, sewage disposal, and food safety, but rarely do people seriously think about the impact of chronic conditions and the medication and devices that people need on a daily basis.[3]

Not all older adults are more vulnerable to ill effects from a disaster than younger people are. In many cases, older adults have the life experience, wisdom, and mental resilience to survive, help others, and reassure people who are frightened or depressed by the events. Nonetheless, many older adults who are frail or have special needs require assistance to survive and recover from a disaster.[4]

Disaster Preparedness Tips for Seniors

Here are some additional things (in addition to a basic plan) seniors can do to help successfully pull through an emergency situation:[5]

Seniors who receive federal benefit should consider receiving payments electronically. Keep in mind a disaster can disrupt mail service for days or even weeks. Direct deposit to a checking or savings account is the best option for people with bank accounts. Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling (800) 333-1795 or at

If you anticipate needing assistance during an emergency, talk to family, friends and others who can be part of your personal support network and make a plan. Make sure that someone in your local network has an extra key to your home and knows where you keep your emergency supplies. Teach those who will help you how to use any lifesaving equipment, administer medicine in case of an emergency. Practice your plan with those who have agreed to be part of your network.

Seniors should keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, food for service animals and any other items you might need. Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require. Remember other personal needs such as eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries.

Keep written copies of your prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, including dosage, treatment and allergy information in your emergency kit. If you take medicine or use a medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have what you need to make it on your own for at least a week, maybe longer. Be sure to make provisions for medications that require refrigeration.

Have copies of your medical insurance and Medicare cards readily available. Keep a list of the style and serial number of medical devices or other life-sustaining devices. Include operating information and instructions. Include the names and contact information of your support network, as well as your medical providers. If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information notes the best way to communicate with you. Keep these documents in a water proof container for quick and easy access.


Disaster Preparedness Resources for Seniors



  1. CDC’s Disaster Planning Goal: Protect Vulnerable Older Adults:; p.1,4
  2. – Seniors:
  3. CDC’s Disaster Planning Goal: Protect Vulnerable Older Adults:; p.2
  4. CDC’s Disaster Planning Goal: Protect Vulnerable Older Adults:; p.4
  5. – Seniors: