Age, Gender, and Care-Dependency – What Makes Us Vulnerable in Crisis Situations

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:42
Oral Presentation
Katja SCHULZE, Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany
Andrea JUNGMANN, Disaster Research Unit, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Julia SCHANDER, Disaster Research Unit, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Many studies have found that older individuals are more likely to suffer adverse physical consequences from natural disasters (Cherniack 2008). One explanation can be found in their worsening health constitution, which leads to an increased need for care or help in daily life as they age (Schneekloth 2005). In Germany, for example, half of all care-dependent people living in private households were above 80 years of age (Heusinger et al. 2014). Within this group, women outnumber men (Statistisches Bundesamt 2015:10) and are disadvantaged in many ways, i.e. they need to seek formal help more often (ZQP 2013a: 88), as they usually live alone (BMFSFJ 2001: 123). Therefore, the elderly, and especially elderly women, are already in a very precarious situation and vulnerable in everyday life. This vulnerability increases in extreme situations such as disasters. At the same time, these people may have developed resilience strategies, which could help them to cope with disasters.

This presentation displays empirical results from the research project KOPHIS (Strengthening the context of people in need of care and/or help), which analyzes, amongst other things, the needs and resources of care-dependent people both in daily life and in a disaster scenario. Three different surveys were conducted: 1) qualitative and 2) quantitative interviews with people in need in the region “Willich” in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, as well as 3) a quantitative representative poll of 2000 German citizens. In combining the results, we explore the interrelation of age, gender, and the need for care as well as how these aspects relate to coping with and preparation for disasters. Furthermore, we are able to show what the interviewees requested from different actors and how milieu may correlate with the above aspects.