Protecting and Assisting Older People in Emergencies

Ageing has significant ramifications for the policy, planning and implementation of humanitarian aid programmes. Older people have particular needs that differ from those of younger members of a community, in particular in the areas of physical and mental health, nutrition and access to essential services. These require special consideration. For many reasons, such special attention is rarely paid by humanitarian policymakers and practitioners. The needs of older citizens are rarely incorporated in emergency policies and programmes, and very few organisations have dedicated staff at head office taking forward ageing issues. This paper argues that changes are required in the way essential services are delivered, and in how older people are viewed. The assumption that existing approaches address the entirety of the needs of old people is false. However, this does not mean that special services will always be necessary; instead, the paper argues that old-age issues need to be mainstreamed into general humanitarian programmes