Skip Navigation
Link to HHS Website Department of Health & Human Services
Link to Administration on Aging HomePage
  Home > Press Room > For the Press > Press Releases
About AoA
Press Room
Elders & Families
Emergency Preparedness
Aging Statistics
AoA Programs
Program Results
Grant Opportunities
AoA Funded Resource Centers

This is an archive page. The links are no longer being updated.


December 6, 2004 Contact: Lisa Cohen


Washington, D.C. – As the Holidays approach and families reflect on 2004 -- a year in which thousands of Americans from coast to coast experienced natural disasters -- the Eldercare Locator is encouraging families to spend some Holiday time mapping out a plan that will keep their older relatives safe when disaster and personal crisis strikes.  The Eldercare Locator, a nationwide service funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging that links older consumers and their families to local aging services, has released an action plan, “IN TOUCH,” to help families establish a strategy to assist older relatives in emergency situations.  “IN TOUCH” was developed to assist families initiate a discussion about ways to help older relatives should an emergency occur.

Disaster and emergency situations can strike quickly and without warning, forcing immediate evacuations or even confining seniors to their homes.  There are many reasons why older Americans must be prepared, including age-related characteristics, such as delayed response time or reduced ability to see or hear.  Mental or physical impairments also can be barriers to quick response, as can chronic health problems, limited finances, and language and cultural differences.  Families can cope with emergencies by preparing in advance for the worst-case scenarios. 

The Eldercare Locator encourages families across the country to take the opportunity this holiday season to establish a family plan with older loved ones to stay “IN TOUCH” during disasters and emergency situations.  Whether you live far away or are directly caring for your loved one, an “IN TOUCH” plan will aid your family communications efforts before, during, and after a crisis situation:

Identify potential emergency situations and disasters that could occur in your older family member’s home and community.

Note what community resources are available that might assist your efforts in establishing your “IN TOUCH” plan.
Talk about individual circumstances that are concerns for you and your older loved one. 

Outline your “IN TOUCH” plan in writing and share it with everyone involved.

            Update your “IN TOUCH” plan as situations change.
            Communicate regularly and test your “IN TOUCH” plan.
            Have peace of mind knowing that you have an “IN TOUCH” plan.

 “Older persons are very resilient, but they may need special help to overcome the adversities of disastrous events,” said Josefina G. Carbonell, Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  “An emergency preparedness plan is a must for all families, and this “IN TOUCH” plan addresses the special needs of older loved ones before a crisis occurs.  I urge you to work with your State or Area Agency on Aging to identify ways to keep your older relatives safe all year round, not just in an emergency.”

In 2004, the country was hit by serious natural disasters – disasters that put seniors in a very difficult position when there wasn’t a plan in place.  Many older Americans have serious obstacles to safety when faced with an unexpected situation, such as lack of transportation; dependence on daily medications; or lack of heat.  If emergency situations arise an effective plan can avert the situation turning into a crisis.  If families need assistance identifying local resources to complete the plan, the Eldercare Locator can connect them with agencies that provide transportation services, meals on wheels, and home health services among others.

“When an emergency occurs, there is no time to sit down and figure out what to do,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.  “This Holiday Season, families can give themselves a precious gift—the gift of peace of mind all year long, knowing that Mom and Dad have a plan in place in the event of an emergency.  How will your aging relative signal for help if needed?  Have arrangements been made for a friend or neighbor to check on them?  As families sit around the dinner table during the holiday season, we strongly encourage them to spend a few minutes identifying ways to stay in touch with older relatives during crisis situations.”

For a copy of the “IN TOUCH” plan and to connect with the State or Area Agency on Agency that serves your community, contact the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 or  The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the National Association of State Units on Aging. 

Media Note:  For additional information, go to the Eldercare Locator Media Center at