Scientists from the Canadian University of Waterloo have developed a new algorithm to help first responders offer better assistance to elderly people during natural disasters such as hurricane or floods.
The algorithm uses data from interRAI, an international network of researchers committed to improving care and quality of life for vulnerable populations, to generate an up-to-date list of vulnerable adults using home care services.
The data includes extensive information about senior adults receiving home care service, such as disability, health status, social isolation and the amount of support an individual may obtain from informal caregivers.
The algorithm, which was published Friday, was explained in detail in the Journal of Emergency Management.
"Older adults living on their own are more difficult to locate and assist than those living in healthcare facilities," said Sandy Van Solm, the Emergency Management Coordinator at the Region of Waterloo who developed the algorithm.
"This algorithm helps us to plan for disasters in advance and allows responders to quickly generate an accurate list of those who may need help during a disaster," Van Solm said.
The tool has the potential to save hundreds of lives at risk of natural disasters, said John Hirdes, a researcher with the University of Waterloo.
By 2036, seniors 65 years of age or older could account for a quarter of Canada's population, and about one sixth of the global population.