Objective Individuals exposed to natural disasters are at risk for negative physical and psychological outcomes. Older adults may be particularly vulnerable; however, social support can act as a resource to help individuals respond to severe stressors. This study explored the challenges older people faced before, during, and after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and the people they turned to for support. Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 older adults in New Jersey drawn from the ORANJ BOWL (Ongoing Research on Aging in New Jersey-Bettering Opportunities for Wellness in Life) research panel, who experienced high levels of primary home damage during Hurricane Sandy. Content analysis of interview transcripts classified older adults' perceptions on how they made it through-the challenges they faced and the support they received. Results The findings suggested that older adults experienced emotional, instrumental, social, and financial challenges before, during, and after the storm. However, by relying on family and friends, as well as neighbors and community networks, older people were able to respond to stressors. Conclusions Our findings carry implications for ensuring that older adults are connected to social networks before, during, and after disasters. The role of neighbors is particularly important when disasters strike.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health