In the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, as in hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the U.S., older individuals were most at risk of mortality. Concerns have been raised about developing plans to reduce this risk in future disasters, but little information about preparedness has been provided, and the key role played by caregivers has been largely unexplored. The aim of our project was to use individual and focus group interviews to identify challenges to household disaster preparedness among older adults with care needs and their families, and to develop a handbook to enhance preparedness. We also examined the preparedness of family caregivers of older adults and identified the characteristics associated with poor preparedness. We found that the vast majority of caregivers (75%) had no concrete plans for evacuation in an emergency, and those caring for people with dementia were 36% less likely to have a plan. Caregivers who were more experienced, wealthier and had more support from their family and community were more likely to be well-prepared. Caregivers with poor health or limited financial resources, or who were responsible for older people with mobility difficulties reported higher levels of anxiety about their disaster preparedness.
Wakui T, et al., Disaster preparedness among older Japanese adults with long-term care needs and their family caregivers. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 2015 (in press)