Kentucky River Community Partners and University of Kentucky Offer Disaster Preparedness Toolkit for Older Adults

HAZARD, Ky. (Sept. 22, 2021) - National Preparedness Month is observed each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The 2021 theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

Disasters can come in many forms, from tornadoes, to hurricanes, to wildfires and more.  Eastern Kentucky was hit particularly hard earlier this year with flooding and winter storms, which has led to community partners in the Kentucky River Area Development District and the University of Kentucky (UK) collaborating to help older adults be more informed and prepared by offering a disaster preparedness toolkit.

“Being prepared and educated before disaster happens is important at any age, but it’s particularly important as was we get older,” said Stacie Noble, associate director of aging services at Kentucky River Area Development District.  “Seniors may not be able to react as quickly to disaster situations or evacuation orders if they have a physical disability or limited mobility.  Other issues like vision or hearing impairment or having a chronic illness may make it more challenging for seniors to deal with a disaster,” said Noble, who also serves as the chair of the senior health workgroup of the Kentucky River Health Consortium. 

The “Disaster Preparedness Toolkit for Older Adults” is available on the Kentucky River Health Consortium webpage.  The toolkit contains several handy documents including a disaster kit checklist, tools to document medical needs and health issues, a family communication plan, how to safeguard important documents and a brief video made especially for seniors.  The toolkit is made possible by the Kentucky River Health Consortium Workgroup for Aging Populations, in partnership with the Kentucky River Area Development District, UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health, UK Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences and Kentucky Homeplace.

“One in five people living in the Kentucky River Area Development District is age 65 or above,” said Melissa Slone, research interdisciplinary director at UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health and Chair of the Kentucky River Health Consortium.  “Increasing awareness about disaster preparedness for this demographic is essential for safety and wellbeing.  We welcome other communities to access and share this toolkit,” said Slone.

Community health workers (CHWs) with Kentucky Homeplace can help older adults with filling out the planning tools in the disaster kit.  To connect with a CHW, click here.  Learn more about National Preparedness Month at www.ready.gov.