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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Disaster Preparedness Planning for Older Adults

​​Disasters can be particularly disruptive to the daily living of older adults and their caregivers.  Chronic conditions that exist prior to an emergency can be exacerbated, equipment damaged or lost, and services or treatments interrupted, causing additional harm or stress.  This webpage will introduce and connect you to key resources on disaster preparedness for older adults developed by the Administration for Community Living, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other partners. 

Administration for Community Living – Administration on Aging: Emergency Preparedness and Response 
This website is intended to provide planning and response information, checklists, and strategies that can assist individuals, families, caregivers, the Aging Services Network, and other professionals to better prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies and disasters.  The National Family Caregiver Support Program developed Just In Case: Emergency Readiness for Older Adults and Caregivers, a fact sheet that provides step-by-step information on how older adults can prepare for a disaster.  It includes a helpful, three-step checklist, emergency contacts list, and current medications list that can be completed.  (Also available in Spanish.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults 
This portal provides links to information, tools, and resources to assist with multi-sector planning for older adults in all-hazard emergencies.  Examples include: a page on older adult health and medical considerations (general health, mental health, and chronic conditions) in disasters; training resources (e.g., workforce readiness, templates for senior-living and long-term care); and Identifying Vulnerable Older Adults and Legal Options for Increasing Their Protection During All-Hazards Emergencies: A Cross-Sector Guide for States and Communities.  In addition, CDC’s page on Extreme Heat offers information on heat stress in people aged 65 years and older and outlines signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, steps you can take to prevent heat-related stress, and how you can help protect your older relatives and neighbors.

National Institutes of Health – National Institute on Aging – Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center 
Home Safety for People with Alzheimer’s Disease: Natural Disaster Safety.  If there is a person with Alzheimer’s in your home, the precautions outlined on this page may be helpful to consider.  This page also offers a specific tip sheet

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Psychosocial Issues for Older Adults in Disasters
This publication gives mental health professionals, emergency response workers, and caregivers the tools to provide disaster mental health and recovery support to older adults.  SAMHSA’s Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) has also compiled an Older Adults Resource Collection, categorized by phases of disaster and by audience. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency: Prepare for Emergencies Now: Information for Older Americans 
This guide outlines common-sense measures older adults can take to start preparing for emergencies before they happen.  Steps include getting a kit of basic supplies, making a plan for what you will do in an emergency, and staying informed and connected.  (Additional formats available here.

American Red Cross: Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors 
Published in 2009 by a group of older adults who experienced a two-week power outage when a massive ice storm hit the Greater Rochester, New York region, the steps presented in this booklet can help you prepare for emergencies and eliminate hardships you might face. 

Flu.gov:  Who’s At Risk – Seniors 
This site is a one-stop shop for information about influenza (flu) prevention, vaccination, symptoms, treatment, and preparedness; this page describes why being older than 65 can put you at higher risk of getting the flu.

Alzheimer’s Association: Disaster Preparedness: Home and Community-Based Services for People with Dementia and Their Caregivers: A Toolkit for the Aging Network (supported by the Administration on Aging)
This toolkit describes how preparedness plays a critical role in decreasing institutional care, provides examples of model programs, and summarizes key actions states and caregivers can take when preparing for emergencies or disasters. 


  • This page last reviewed: October 30, 2013