Coping With Disasters and Pandemics Through Experience and Community: How African American Older Adults Navigate Disaster Planning, Response, and Recovery. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: Studies have reported that minorities are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Few studies have elucidated the lived experiences of African American older adults, and the resiliency displayed in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters. METHODS: This study used 4 recorded focus groups with 26 African American older adults who have spent most of their lives living in Houston, Texas to assess safety, economic, and health concerns related to the pandemic and similarities or differences with other types of disasters that are specific to Houston/ the Gulf Region of Texas, such as Hurricane Harvey. RESULTS: Key themes emerged from the thematic analysis: 1) previous disasters provided important coping and preparation skills, although each occurrence was still a major stressor, 2) while telehealth was a significant benefit, regular health maintenance and chronic disease management were not completed during the COVID-19 pandemic, 3) information from the federal and state authorities were inconsistent and spurred fear and anxiety, 4) participants experienced few to no disruptions to their income but were heavily called on to support family members, and 5) participants experienced anxiety and isolation, but many used existing social connections to cope. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate how African American older adults navigate disaster response and recovery through experience and community. Providing unambiguous information to older adults could prove useful in preparing for future disaster events and coping with disasters.

published proceedings

  • Disaster Med Public Health Prep

author list (cited authors)

  • Adepoju, O. E., Smith, K. L., Shetty, S., Taha, E., & Howard, D. L.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Adepoju, Omolola E||Smith, Kendra L||Shetty, Sharonya||Taha, Eloise-Emmanuella||Howard, Daniel L

publication date

  • January 2023