A disaster or emergency can cause loss and change that goes beyond the immediate damage. Seniors are not all alike—neither are reactions to a disaster or emergencies. Some seniors have past life experiences that can help to cope with hard times and stress after a disaster or emergency. For others, the disaster may bring back memories that can make it harder to cope. It is important to remember that support is available after a disaster or emergency.
Some seniors may need additional help, including those who:
After a disaster or emergency, it’s important to support seniors. Be mindful of special needs and make time to offer practical and emotional help.
Not all Seniors need Help
Seniors can be very supportive—most have the knowledge and life experience to help others cope. Seniors can be great volunteers. It’s important that seniors are welcomed and know about opportunities to participate in relief efforts. Volunteering is a good way for seniors to feel more connected to communities and to make new friends.
Assistance with Financial Information and Relief Application Forms
Relief forms can be confusing and hard to complete. Offer help to fill out applications. Some seniors may not be comfortable with receiving financial support. Take the time to explain that support is available to anyone who is affected by a disaster or emergency.
Some seniors don’t own a car or have the ability to drive—when possible, do the driving, arrange rides, or help with public transportation.
Support seniors to make their own decisions about rebuilding or relocating. For some seniors, the thought of rebuilding may be overwhelming and for some it may not be an option. Help develop a plan that is appropriate under the circumstances. If needed, include suggestions for relocating or rebuilding. Seniors are at a greater risk for abuse related to scams or cons. Talk to seniors about the risks and suggest ways to stay safe.
Make sure that seniors have aids like glasses, hearing aids, dentures and walking aids (e.g., canes or walkers) and their medicine to support wellness.
Ways to Help Cope
Focus on strengths and abilities. Help seniors stay connected. Friends and community groups are important. Reconnect seniors with their peer and community supports as soon as possible. Provide accurate, up-to-date information. This is particularly important for seniors living in temporary housing.
Other Things to Think About
Physical or Behavioural
Current as of: May 9, 2018
Author: Mental Health Promotion & Illness Prevention, Alberta Health Services
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