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 Seniors Likely To Fare Worst From Hurricane Sandy, Gerontology Group Warns

​Seniors are the most likely to top Hurricane Sandy’s butcher’s bill, the Gerontological Society of America warned Wednesday.

Sandy was a once-in-a-century storm that appeared to have swallowed mosHurricane Sandy, nursing homest of the East Coast.

Authorities up and down the Eastern seaboard were still trying to count casualties and damages, and much of New York and New Jersey was still off the grid Wednesday.

But it’s a safe bet that seniors were most likely to have suffered from it, the society warned. Three-quarters of those who died under Hurricane Katrina were 60 years or older.

Sandy was apparently even more intense, with wind gusts up to 100 mph. It ripped off the roofs of nursing homes in New Jersey and Massachusetts and led to thousands of evacuations, as well as outages.

It’s not just the age and infirmity of patients that take their toll, the society said. It’s also that there doesn’t appear to be much of an emergency infrastructure to come to seniors’ aid.

“Right now, most people who are responding to the hurricane are not trained in the needs of older adults,” said University of South Florida Associate Professor Lisa Brown, who is also a co-convenor of the society’s Disasters and Older Adults Interest Group and an associate professor at the University of South Florida. “Likewise, very few geriatricians and gerontologists are trained in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery,” she said.

Brown’s interest group will meet next month. But it’s already apparent that seniors need advocates among emergency responders, she said.

“We don’t have continuity in the disaster infrastructure for older adults. Our efforts tend to be more reactive post-disaster than proactive pre-disaster,” she said. “More research in this area will result in targeted policies and refined programs that would enhance existing systems of care.”

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