When extreme weather strikes, older adults can be especially vulnerable.
They’re more likely to lack reliable transportation or have medical issues that make it hard to evacuate.
“They’re more likely to have a diminished social circle. They might not be as attuned to certain channels of communication by which warnings go out,” says Jason Rhoades of the Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience at Antioch University New England.
He’s been running focus groups with seniors to understand how best to keep them safe.
He says it’s important to engage older adults in resilience planning and to work with people and organizations that they already know and trust.
For example, he says community- and faith-based groups can help provide seniors with information about climate risks, alert systems, and other resources.
And events like block parties can help seniors get to know their neighbors. Then, during an emergency, they may feel more comfortable asking for help, and people know to check on them.
Rhoades says taking a community-based approach to resilience can provide many benefits.
“So that it’s not only helping address their vulnerability to climate change, but it’s also helping improve quality of life more broadly … to have this sense of community engagement and cohesion,” he says.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media