The Willingness of Older Adults to Evacuate in the Event of a Disaster

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The issue of rising number of disasters, the overwhelming increase in number of older adults, and historically flawed evacuations presents real challenges. Disasters can strike anywhere, any time, and have devastating consequences. Since 1900, the number of Americans 65 and older has increased 12 times (from 3.1 million to 36.3 million). During the next two decades, the number of American baby boomers, now aged 45-64, who turn 65, will increase by 40%. As evidenced by recent disasters, the imperfections and vulnerabilities of flawed evacuations for older adults are still present. This study examined the level of willingness to evacuate among ... continued below

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Gray-Graves, Amy Michael May 2009.

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  • Gray-Graves, Amy Michael

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The issue of rising number of disasters, the overwhelming increase in number of older adults, and historically flawed evacuations presents real challenges. Disasters can strike anywhere, any time, and have devastating consequences. Since 1900, the number of Americans 65 and older has increased 12 times (from 3.1 million to 36.3 million). During the next two decades, the number of American baby boomers, now aged 45-64, who turn 65, will increase by 40%. As evidenced by recent disasters, the imperfections and vulnerabilities of flawed evacuations for older adults are still present. This study examined the level of willingness to evacuate among older adults in the event of a disaster. Despite the extensive literature on disasters and evacuation, some significant questions regarding evacuation and older adults have not been addressed. This study addressed the following concerns: (1) What is the willingness among older adults to evacuate when asked to do so by emergency management officials? (2) Does the call to evacuate being mandatory versus voluntary influence the willingness of seniors to evacuate? (3) Do preconditions (Gender, Marital Status, Age, Ethnic Origin, and Education Levels) influence the willingness to evacuate among older adults?

The sample population consisted of 765 voluntary participants aged 60 years and older from thirty senior/community centers within seven counties in the State of Oklahoma. A group administered survey (The Disaster Evacuation Survey) included a total of 15 questions. This study revealed the following findings: older adults are more likely to comply with a mandatory evacuation order. Individuals with college degrees are more likely to comply with mandatory evacuations. African Americans are more likely to comply with a voluntary request. American Indian/Alaskan Native are more likely to comply with mandatory evacuation orders from emergency officials. Important practical implications for emergency officials responding to vulnerable older adults in disaster situations are also provided.

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  • May 2009

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  • Oct. 10, 2009, 4:40 p.m.

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  • Jan. 14, 2014, 3:54 p.m.

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Gray-Graves, Amy Michael. The Willingness of Older Adults to Evacuate in the Event of a Disaster, dissertation, May 2009; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9926/: accessed June 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .