Older people in disasters and humanitarian crises: Guidelines for best practice

These Guidelines for best practice are based on wide-ranging new research from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas and many years’ global disaster experience. They aim to help relief agencies meet the special needs of older people in emergencies. While older people are commonly accepted as being a vulnerable or potentially vulnerable group, at present very little is done to meet their particular needs, or to recognise their unique capacities and contributions. Humanitarian interventions often ignore older people’s special needs, using systems that discriminate against them and, on occasion, undermine their capacity to support themselves. The guidelines give examples of key approaches and actions that could help the humanitarian community reduce the vulnerability associated with ageing. They also suggest ways to enhance the capacities and contribution of older people in emergencies. The guidelines also explore the wider issues relating to older people in humanitarian crises. These range from globally agreed principles of social and civil practice and global demographic changes, to the physical impact of the ageing process, common images and assumptions held about older people, the key problems they face, and the gender dimensions of their needs.