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A Flex-Model for long-term assessment of community-residing older adults following disasters

Marlene M. Rosenkoetter, PhD, RN, CNS, FAAN, JoEllen McDonough, PhD, RN, Amber McCall, PhD, RN, Deborah Smith, DNP, RN, Stephen Looney, PhD


For the rapidly growing older adult population, disaster consequences are frequently life disruptive and even life threatening. By 2050, it is estimated that the global older adult population will reach 22 percent of the total. With declining health, this population poses a particular risk needing to be addressed in emergency preparedness and disaster recovery. The purpose of this article is to describe a Flex-Model (F-M) for the long-term assessment of older adults following a disaster. An F-M is a series of three-dimensional representations of an archetype with flexible components, both linear and parallel, that can be adapted to situations, time, place, and needs. The model incorporates the Life Patterns Model and provides a template that can be adjusted to meet the needs of a local community, healthcare providers, and emergency management officials, regardless of the country or region, during the months after a disaster. The focus is on changes resulting from the disaster including roles, relationships, support systems, use of time, self-esteem, and life structure. Following a baseline assessment, each of these life patterns is assessed through the model with options for interventions over time. A pilot study was conducted in Georgia to gain information that would be helpful in developing a more specific assessment tool following a severe winter storm. While this is a local study, the findings can nevertheless be used to refine and focus the F-M for future implementation. Results indicated that older adults used high-risk heating and lighting sources and many were totally responsible for their own welfare. Findings have implications for emergency preparedness and long-term recovery.


disasters, assessments of older adults

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