Author: Fatma Özge Kayhan Koçak
Origin/Affiliations: Geriatrician at Southeastern Turkiye / Diyarbakır PhD student (Elderly Health doctoral program) in Ege University Member of ECGI-reporters group
13 percent of Turkiye's population is located in the 500 km2 region affected by earthquake. 15.2 million people, including 2.1 million older adults, was living in affected provinces. Turkiye, one of the countries where Geriatric Medicine (GM) is still emerging, has been faced with another challenge in GM respect; effect of the earthquake. Southeastern Turkiye affected by earthquake has a traditional cohabiting family structure. The majority of the population aged 65 and over lived in Southeastern Turkiye has never lived anywhere else, this is where they were born and grew up. This group is composed of people who prefer to live in homes with their families rather than in nursing homes and who want to be buried in this region close to their loved ones. Also, the total-age dependency ratio, the ratio of dependents (people younger than 15 or older than 64) to the working-age population (those ages 15-64), is higher in this region than in the others. The call to "stay home" during the COVID-19 period has shifted to "stay out" with the earthquake in Turkey. In particular, older survivors with special needs have been evacuated from the region to other provinces. However, the presence of their relatives or family members was not taken into account when transferring an older survivor. Moreover, there is a language barrier among older survivors in some parts of that region. All of this demonstrates that we need protocols, guidelines to identify the unique needs and preferences of the older survivors, also for other disasters such as earthquakes, not just for epidemics.