A majority of older adults have not taken steps to ensure they receive information during a disaster and are more likely to be unprepared if a disaster strikes, according to a new AARP national survey.
“The findings underscore the need for enhanced emergency disaster preparedness and active information-seeking among older adults,” according to the organization.
Less than one-third (29%) of those surveyed have yet to create a comprehensive emergency plan for natural disasters, while just 1 in 10 have embraced modern tools such as disaster-related apps or text notifications from official national disaster resource agencies. And only 10% of older adults follow national disaster resource organizations on social media such as FEMA, American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
“Technology has made it easier for people to prepare and take action during emergencies, but it’s reliability depends on the steps a person takes before a disaster strikes,” said Tom Kamber, Executive Director of Older Adults Technology Services from AARP. “Older adults are disproportionately impacted by severe weather, so it’s critical to have an emergency plan in place and be tech ready to stay actively informed during an emergency.”
According to AARP, growing evidence reveals older adults’ heightened vulnerability to increasingly severe weather-related emergencies and disasters. Those with chronic illnesses, functional limitations, or disabilities face even greater risks. Beyond a higher mortality risk, older adults often suffer long-term adverse effects on their physical and mental health, economic security, and overall well-being.
Key findings include:
- About 3 in 5 older adults (57%) do not have a portable emergency charger for mobile devices.
- Over half of older adults (56%) report they have not saved vital documents digitally (e.g., driver’s license, health insurance, home/renter policies).
- Only 29% have a backup generator, leaving many without crucial backup power.
- More than 1 in 3 older adults (36%) lack extra prescription medications for emergencies.
- Over half (53%) of older pet owners have not purchased GPS-tracking technology for their pets.
OATS from AARP offers these tech readiness tips through its flagship program Senior Planet:
- Download emergency preparedness apps.
- Follow local/national organizations on social media for real-time updates during disasters.
- Set up emergency contacts on your phone.
- Buy a car charger/back-up power for mobile devices and a generator.
- Store key documents digitally with a password protected jump drive or in the Cloud.
- Set up automatic prescription refills with three weeks’ supply.
- Download mobile banking app and P2P apps.
- Ensure pet tracking during emergencies.
For more information and resources to help get prepared, visit AARP.org/DisasterPrep.