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Disability Accommodation?

After water poured into lower Manhattan subway lines, two million Con Ed customers lost power and Breezy Point took a direct Hurricane Sandy hit, Cornell University's Elaine Wethington now examines the toll on senior citizens in the wake of major storms and climate change.

Wethington, professor of human development, discusses Aging in the Age of Climate Change, at a journalists-only luncheon on March 5.

As the climate changes, so does our understanding of old age. As the devastation of hurricanes Sandy and Irene showed, older adults - some of whom have limited mobility or depend on home nurses for vital care - are among the most vulnerable when major weather events paralyze city and regional transportation systems, medical facilities and other key infrastructure.

Many older New York City residents live alone, which makes them more vulnerable to social isolation in time of crisis and their health in response to severe stress. Tens of thousands of elderly who live alone have disabilities that would make response to evacuation orders more difficult.

Wethington has studied extensively how seniors respond to these high-stress events, social isolation and its impact on their mental and physical health. She will also share findings from research that draws on collaborations with Weill Cornell Medical Center through the federally funded Cornell Roybal Center for Translational Research on Aging.

About Inside Cornell: This event is part of a monthly series held in New York City featuring researchers and experts working at Cornell University's centers in Ithaca, Manhattan and around the world. The free, catered lunch sessions are on-the-record, and media members are welcome to record video and audio as desired.