14 - Disaster Mental Health in Older Adults: Symptoms, Policy, and Planning  pp. 233-263

Disaster Mental Health in Older Adults: Symptoms, Policy, and Planning

By Joan M. Cook and Diane L. Elmore

Chapter Abstract

This chapter reviews the empirical evidence regarding mental health consequences of disasters in older adults. In addition, important implications for disaster policy and planning for the needs of the aging population are discussed. A recent quantitative review of mental health in a broad range of disaster survivors reported differential protective effects associated with older age in only 2 of 17 distinct samples that included older adults. Two themes of relative deprivation were identified in older adults: the loss of symbolic assets, and the preoccupation with time. The empirical literature on the effects of natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes on the mental health of older adults is equivocal and varies according to a variety of factors. Compared to natural disasters, much less is known about the effects of human-made catastrophes in the lives of older adults. Technological disasters can be caused by human error or major industrial accidents.


Keywords:

differential protective effects; human-made disasters; technological disasters; disaster policy; mental health; older adults;

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