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Many Older Adults Still Homebound After 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake: Study

Update Date: Oct 15, 2014 07:44 AM EDT

Homebound status of adults over the age of 65 in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake is still a serious public health concern, according to a new study.  

The study surveyed 2,327 older adults and found that approximately 20 percent were homebound. 

Researchers studied data from the city of Rikuzentakata, an area that suffered serious damages by the disaster. Of its total population of 23,302 before the events of 2011, 1,773 people died or are still missing. Of 7,730 houses, 3,368 (43.6%) were affected with 3,159 "completely destroyed," the press release noted. 

Since the community infrastructure was totally shattered, majority of the population had been concentrated in flat coastal areas. People who lost their houses insisted moving to areas in the mountains. 

"This study has important implications for public health, especially in the setting of post-disaster community reconstruction. First, community diagnoses in a post-disaster setting should cover the built environment, including access to shopping facilities. Second, to prevent older victims of a disaster such as the Great East Japan Earthquake being homebound, it is clearly essential to provide access to the facilities that fulfil their daily needs," said lead author Naoki Kondo, in the press release.

"Given the findings of this study, such access could be increased by the private sector, suggesting the importance of public-private partnerships for post-disaster reconstruction."

The study has been published in the journal Age and Aging. 

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