Empowering Older Adults with Resilient Communities


  • The impacts of climate change and disasters on older adults
  • "Age proofing" social and economic policies to support older adults throughout their lives and help them harness their volunteer contributions
  • Identifying strategies to enhance the resilience of older Americans to environmental threats and everyday life


Climate change is impacting a growing population of older adults. Seniors are more vulnerable to climate-related impacts. This means that a population that is potentially more susceptible to environmental threats is becoming larger. In attempting to prepare for these impacts, vulnerable populations face significant barriers, including: lack of funds, inaccess to transportation, difficulty reading maps and other preparedness content, and lack of storage space. As extreme weather is projected to increase, a new strategy is required to keep older adults safe. A Community Resilience Framework provides an alternative, evidence-informed orientation through which to approach disaster preparedness and response for older people. The basic premise of the framework is that a neighborhood’s response to and recovery from a disaster is largely determined by how that neighborhood functioned prior to the disaster. The implications of this paradigm shift are profound: resources should go toward enhancing communities’ social networks, connectedness, integration of assets, coping skills, and health care long before disaster strikes. This approach holds the significant benefit of helping to strengthen communities whether or not disaster occurs. In addition, older populations should be encouraged to volunteer, as their knowledge of the local community would allow them to play a key role in developing local response strategies.