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Addressing the Needs of Older Adults in Times of Disaster: An EDEN Based Program


The primary objective of this grant is to reduce the impact of natural disasters on the elderly through education delivered through EDEN, county and state Extension networks. This project will heighten awareness of service providers, emergency planning professionals, emergency workers, and family members of the special needs of older adults regarding preparation for disaster and recovery from the effects of disaster. This grant team will develop a set of educational materials designed and written specifically for older adults that will enable them to make informed, timely decisions and plans regarding potential safe home-bound duration of a disaster (sheltering in place) or evacuation, and recovery. We will spend particular attention to recognizing and responding to other at-risk elders the socially isolated, disabled, as well as to people who can live independently under normal circumstances but whose ability to cope may fall apart under disaster circumstances. The team will also develop a complementary set of background materials for county Extension educators to provide them with an overview of the research and literature about specific topics related to disasters and the impacts they have on older adults. All new materials will be deployed through EDEN, CECP (the Cooperative Extension Curriculum Project), and eXtension.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Research has found that in natural disasters more than 50% of fatalities are older adults. Older adults, who are more sensitive to heat and cold, are particularly at risk when the electricity fails, when ordered to evacuate, older adults respond differently than younger people and are at increased risk when a disaster requires moving quickly and they are disadvantaged in recovery because they are often physically unable to handle their own rebuilding. This project focuses on the development and distribution, through EDEN, educational materials to help older adults in times of disaster. Educational materials related to Nutrition, Food Safety, and Health, Socio-Emotional Issues of Older Adults and Needs of Caregivers, Housing Needs of Older Adults During Disaster, and Resource Management in Times of Disaster. It is expected that the availability of these educational materials will increase the frequency with which older adults turn to their Extension service for timely, research-based information regarding disasters, whether directly through EDEN or through their county Extension office. <P>APPROACH: To accomplish the aforementioned objectives, the planning group decided to focus on four key content areas pertaining to older adults in the event of a disaster, including nutrition, food safety, health, socio-emotional issues of older adults, the needs of caregivers, housing needs of older adults during disasters, and resource management in times of disaster. Key personnel who are Extension specialists in the above areas will comprise Content Specialist Teams and will bear final responsibility for the development of content and methodology associated with each area. Using project funding, four curriculum developers (CDs), each with background in one of the content areas will be hired to identify, collect, and synthesize available materials and to develop teaching materials and associated resources. Content Specialist Teams will provide existing resources to the appropriate Curriculum Developer. The CDs will report to the project coordinator who, along with the PI will facilitate ongoing input and reviews from the content specialists. The Co-PI will be responsible for working with the project coordinator, the IT specialist, and EDEN professionals to facilitate the technical aspects of the project. The training materials as well as the resources available will have multiple foci: 1) preparation, which is planning for the disaster, 2) mitigation in the midst of the disaster, 3) response to the disaster and 4) recovery, coping with, managing and alleviating the after effects of the disaster. Training materials will be designed to meet the special reading and learning needs of older adults. They will be consistent in format, style, and layout. A graphic artist will create an appropriate and attractive design that will appeal to older audiences, and will distinguish the educational materials generated by this project. The materials will be carefully edited for readability (larger print, additional white space, short lines) and literacy level. Literacy level will be below the 8th grade level that is standard for most Extension consumer publications because the topics may be difficult to understand, particularly issues related to health, legal, and finances and contain messages which are of utmost urgency and importance.

University of Florida
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