LEXINGTON, Ky. (October 28, 2021) – Disasters can take many forms, including floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and more. Eastern Kentucky was hit particularly hard earlier this year by flooding and winter storms. These events brought community partners into the Kentucky River Region Development District and several University of Kentucky centers to collaborate on a disaster preparedness toolkit designed to better inform older people if their area is affected.
“Our Appalachian residents can experience extreme hardship during these disasters,” said Erin Haynes, DPH, Kurt W. Deuschle Professor of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health, Chairman of the UK Departments of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and Health environment, and deputy director of the UK Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UNITED KINGDOM-CARES). “This project uses combined expertise and resources from across the Commonwealth to help Kentuckians who need it most in times of disaster.”
âOne in five people living in the Kentucky River Area Development District is 65 or older,â said Melissa Slone, director of interdisciplinary research at UK Center of Excellence for Rural Health and president of the Kentucky River Health Consortium. âIncreased awareness of disaster preparedness for this demographic group is essential for safety and well-being. We invite other communities to access and share this toolkit.
The Elderly Disaster Preparedness Toolkit is available at Kentucky River Health Consortium webpage. The toolkit contains several practical documents, including a disaster kit checklist, tools for documenting medical needs and health issues, a family communication plan, information on how to protect documents important topics and a short video designed especially for older people. The toolkit is made possible by the Kentucky River Health Consortium Workgroup for Aging Populations, in partnership with the Kentucky River Area Development District, the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health, UK-CARES and Kentucky Homeplace.
âThe collaboration that produced this toolkit is just one example of how community-university partnerships can help improve our ability to care for ourselves before, during and after disasters,â said Anna Goodman Hoover, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the College of Public Health and member of UK-CARES. âSuch toolkits can be especially important in rural areas, where long distances and difficult conditions can slow down the response. “
âBeing prepared and educated before a disaster strikes is important at any age, but it’s especially important as we age,â said Stacie Noble, associate director of aging services at the Kentucky River Area Development District and Chair of the Kentucky River Health Consortium Aging Population Working Group. âOlder people may not be able to respond as quickly to disaster situations or evacuation orders if they have a physical disability or limited mobility. Other problems such as visual or hearing impairment or chronic illness can make it more difficult for older people to cope with a disaster.
Learn more about disaster preparedness at www.ready.gov.