The ABC's of planning for a disaster

It's a startling figure: 75 percent of American households are at risk for some type of natural disaster. Equally startling is that relatively few have done much to prepare.

The Hartford Advance 50 Team of gerontologists partnered with the MIT AgeLab to conduct research to better understand older adults' experiences with natural disasters. "Our research shows that it's just human nature not to plan for a disaster – mainly because we think it won't happen to us," said Cindy Hellyar, corporate gerontologist at The Hartford. "But it's critical to plan for a disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flood, or fire, particularly for older adults and their families. Disease-related conditions and the functional limitations they cause are more prevalent in later life, and this makes older adults, as a group, more vulnerable during emergencies and disasters," Hellyar explains.

"Careful preparation and open communication can help to prevent loss of life and reduce property damage or loss," explains Lisa D'Ambrosio, Ph.D., research scientist at MIT. "Planning can lessen the stress and discomfort around recovery and rebuilding, as well as decrease the amount of time it will take to get your life back in order."

"Disaster planning does not have to be daunting," said Hellyar. "Based on our research, we identified three key steps to a comprehensive plan – the ABC's – to Survive and Recover from a Disaster – that apply to everyone, but especially to older adults."

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