Geriatric Psychiatry Association Lauds OIG for Focus on Nursing Home Residents During Disasters

Published Monday, April 16, 2012

The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry agrees with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that more needs to be done to protect those in nursing homes during times of disaster. The OIG recently issued a report, titled “Gaps Continue to Exist in Nursing Home Emergency Preparedness and Response During Disasters: 2007-2010,” which outlines findings that while most nursing homes met federal requirements for written emergency plans and preparedness  training, emergency plans lacked relevant information, and facilities faced challenges with unreliable transportation contracts, lack of collaboration with local emergency management, and residents who developed health problems.

The AAGP has long been concerned about how communities care for their older adults during times of natural disasters. “While older adults may have great resilience, the frail elderly or those with psychiatric or medical limitations are particularly vulnerable to stress caused by disasters,” explained AAGP President Paul D.S. Kirwin, MD. In 2008, the AAGP published a position statement, “Geriatric Disaster Response” describing the effects of disasters on older adults and listed recommendations for communities, facilities, and families.

AAGP’s sister organization, the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, has a brochure for older adults and their families, titled “Older Adults and Disaster: Preparedness and Response,” available at www.GMHFonline.org. The brochure is offered in English and Spanish.

To interview an AAGP spokesperson on older adults and disaster preparedness and response, contact Kate McDuffie at kmcduffie@aagponline.org