Access & Functional Needs: Elderly Residents

Special Needs

By the time adults have lived through six or more decades, they have likely experienced more than one disaster. Many older adults can be an asset during a disaster, calling upon their prior experience, wisdom and mental resilience to survive, help others, and provide reassurance to those who are frightened or depressed by the events.


  • Older adults are more vulnerable than younger adults during a disaster because they are more likely to have impaired physical mobility, diminished sensory awareness, chronic health conditions, or social and economic limitations.
  • More than half of older adults have some kind of functional limitation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
  • Older persons who are hard of hearing or cognitively impaired might have trouble understanding information or following directions.
  • Persons who use wheelchairs, canes, or walkers cannot climb stairs if elevators stop working due to a power outage.
  • Elderly residents who no longer drive or do not own a car face difficulties evacuating.
  • Older adults also are more prone than younger people to ill effects from extreme temperature, especially if local electric utility or gas distribution services are disrupted for an extended period of time.
  • Seniors living by themselves might not have a support system and many lack sufficient income or other resources to help cope with the after-effects of a disaster.
  • Many seriously ill people continue to live in their own homes with support from caregivers and professionals, who may or may not be available to assist after a disaster.

Tips for Elderly Residents

  • Make an emergency plan that is specific to your needs, including;
    • an evacuation plan that includes transporting personal medical devices
    • a communications plan that identifies multiple emergency contacts, for family, caregivers, doctors, and equipment suppliers
    • identifies where to go in an emergency, both a neighborhood as well as an out of region evacuation location
    • identifies how you will get there (via car, family or friend, public transit), and
    • who you can call for non-life threatening assistance, or call 9-1-1 for emergency help
  • A basic emergency supply kit, including
    • medications and photocopies of prescriptions
    • copies of important insurance documents (home, life, auto, and medical)
    • important identification, such as driver license, insurance cards, credit cards
    • your list of medications, as well as doctor and pharmacy information, should be kept in a waterproof bag
    • a copy of medical device information (style and serial numbers), warranty, and service support information
    • yeglasses and prescriptions
    • hearing aids and extra batteries
    • oxygen, or
    • assistive technologies
  • Similarly, if appropriate, the plan and kit should include any food, supplies and documents needed by a service animal or pets.
  • Older adults also should keep a backup list of emergency information, including contacts, medications, medical devices (including style and serial number), and doctors, in another location such as a friend’s home or with a trusted family member.

Related Information

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2015

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version