Predictors of Emergency Preparedness Among Older Adults in the United States

Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2021 Oct;15(5):624-630. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2020.80. Epub 2020 Jun 1.


Objectives: Emergency preparedness becomes more important with increased age, as older adults are at heightened risk for harm from disasters. In this study, predictors of preparedness actions and confidence in preparedness among older adults in the United States were assessed.

Methods: This nationally representative survey polled community-dwelling older adults ages 50-80 y (n = 2256) about emergency preparedness and confidence in addressing different types of emergencies. Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of reported emergency preparedness actions and confidence in addressing emergencies.

Results: Participants' mean age was 62.4 y (SD = 8); 52% were female, and 71% were non-Hispanic white. Living alone was associated with lower odds of having a 7-d supply of food and water (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.74; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.56-0.96), a stocked emergency kit (aOR = 0.64; 95% CI: 0.47-0.86), and having had conversations with family or friends about evacuation plans (aOR = 0.59; 95% CI: 0.44-0.78). Use of equipment requiring electricity was associated with less confidence in addressing a power outage lasting more than 24 h (aOR = 0.66; 95% CI: 0.47-0.94), as was use of mobility aids (OR = 0.65; 95% CI: 0.45-0.93).

Conclusions: These results point to the need for tailored interventions to support emergency preparedness for older adults, particularly among those who live alone and use medical equipment requiring electricity.

Keywords: disaster planning; emergency preparedness; empowerment of older persons; older adults; social isolation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Disasters*
  • Emergencies
  • Female
  • Home Environment
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States