September is National Preparedness Month (NPM), and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) is partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) to encourage citizens to spend a moment thinking about emergency preparedness and the unique challenges emergencies pose to the older adults in their lives.
“Building more resilient communities begins long before the news is discussing a threat on the horizon,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “While manmade and natural disasters have become more common, they’ve likewise become less predictable— underscoring the importance of planning for a variety of hazards that could present themselves. Recognizing possible threats early and being prepared can make a huge difference in how effective we are in our response and recovery efforts.”
This year’s theme, “Take Control in 1, 2, 3,” highlights the importance for older adults to prepare by taking three essential steps – assess your needs, create a plan, and engage your support network. These steps empower older adults with tools and strategies to be more prepared.
- Assess your needs: An individual’s needs during a disaster are not always the same. It is important to assess your needs and the needs of each of your family members so you can make a plan that works for you.
- Make a plan: After assessing your needs, or those of your loved ones, it’s time to make sure you have a plan in place that addresses those needs. It can be helpful to practice!
- Engage your support network: Having assessed your needs and gathered all your information and supplies, consider pulling others into your plan. Start by creating a support network of family, friends, and others who can assist you during an emergency.
“When a disaster strikes, seconds count for older adults to evacuate their home and get themselves and loved ones to a safe place. There won’t be time to gather essential items such as food and medication, so it’s important to plan now so older adults don’t waste precious time getting to safety,” said Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich. “This month, we are reminded of the great opportunity we have to support older adults on being prepared by reviewing their plan and other disaster preparations. If they don’t have a plan in place, we encourage them to meet with their family and friends and discuss what they might need to do and have with them should they need to leave their home in the event of an emergency.”
Pennsylvania is currently home to over 3.5 million individuals who are age 65 or older, and the Commonwealth’s fastest growing demographic is those who are age 85 and older. While older Pennsylvanians have many of the same needs as others, they often face additional challenges including reliance on medical equipment, accessibility and mobility issues, and access to needed prescription medication.