Disasters are known to have a disproportionately high impact on the elderly. This is due to increased vulnerability from a variety of factors including chronic diseases, disability and multiple social factors. Globally, the proportion of older people is growing faster than any other age group. In 2000, one in ten or about 600 million people were 60 years or older. By 2050 this figure is expected to reach around 1.9 billion people.
In the Caribbean, the UN estimates that the over 60 population will increase from 11.1% (4,500,000) in 2005 to 24.6% (12,400,000) in 2050 (figures include the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Haiti). In recognition of these issues, PAHO has been exploring the issue of the elderly in disasters and proposes a strategy to support national disaster management mechanisms for identifying, preparing and responding to the specific needs of the elderly population in a disaster. A sub-regional workshop for the Caribbean on disasters and the elderly was held 14 to 15 of July 2008 in the British Virgin Islands.