When Natural Disasters Strike, Senior Housing Searches Spike

Severe weather events have been a major catalyst for senior housing transitions in the past few years, according to senior living referral source A Place for Mom. 

Inquiries for senior living and care communities spiked anywhere from 11% to more than 90% in the two-week periods following storms Hurricane Sandy (2012), Hurricane Ike (2008), and Hurricane Katrina (2005), reveals APFM data.

After examining data from 1,700 seniors and their families that contacted A Place for Mom following major storms, the referral service noticed that inquires increased 18% after Hurricane Sandy; 11% after Hurricane Ike; and a whopping 91% after Hurricane Katrina.


“Seniors are among the hardest hit populations when disaster strikes,” said Sean Kell, CEO of A Place for Mom, in a statement. “Safety during unpredictable weather catastrophes is becoming an increasing concern, and many caregivers are seeking senior communities for a loved one that offer the security of emergency response plans along with needed amenities and services in the wake of bad storms.”

Older adults are often more vulnerable to disasters for a variety of reasons including physical or mental impairments or lack of transportation, according to MDC, a nonprofit organization that publishes research and develops programs focused on expanding opportunity, reducing poverty, and addressing structural inequity.

Around 13 million people aged 50 or older across the United States report needing help evacuating in the event of a disaster, says MDC. The vulnerability of seniors was highlighted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as a study released in 2008 revealed that almost half of the storm’s casualties were aged 75 or older. Similarly, for Hurricane Sandy, almost half of the more than 100 deaths attributed to the storm were 65 or older. 


This past week, a tornado wreaked havoc in central Oklahoma, causing devastation in its 17-mile track that affected an estimated 33,000 people, according to Reuters, including children, seniors, and their caregivers. 

In line with past incidents, APFM says it is expecting an increase in calls in the next two weeks from Oklahoma families who need help for their aging loved ones.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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