Article

Older People and Climate Change: Vulnerability and Health Effects

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Habitability, health, and environmental justice will be challenged as the adverse effects of climate change interact with factors that are characteristic of older people. This article describes the potential of climate change to affect the environment in a number of ways that place increased stress disproportionately on the most vulnerable populations, including the old, the young, and the poor. Older people are among the most at risk because of decreased mobility resulting from age, changes in physiology, and more restricted access to resources, all of which may limit adaptive capacity. The article describes the challenges older people will face, why these have potentially far-reaching implications for the health of individuals and the population as a whole, and strategies for coping.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Ta je patrná i na vytváření sebeobrazu seniorů a jejich "vědomé i nereflektované" narativní distanci od vrstevníků jako nositelů negativních, diskreditujících vlastností stereotypně připisovaných stáří (Sýkorová 2007b: 143). Sami stárnoucí lidé užívají ageistický slovník na adresu "starých", jímž se snaží symbolicky oddělit na osobní rovině, ale i vůči sobě samým, což může být, jak upozorňuje například Šiklová (2005), 12 znakem ztotožnění se s negativním statusem připisovaným stáří a stárnutí. Sýkorová také ukazuje, jak je rozdílná spotřeba zvýznamňována jako definiční atribut pro různé generace současných seniorů. ...
... Třídní pozici nevnímáme jako čistě individuální charakteristiku, ale spíše jako charakteristiku celé domácnosti, ve které se obvykle předpokládá sdílení zdrojů. Pětistupňová třídní klasifikace (ABCDE) je pro každou domácnost odvozena od pozice hlavy domácnosti ve 12 ...
... The changing climate poses a threat to our health and wellbeing [1,2]. Older persons are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of climate change [3,4]. This is partially attributed to premorbid medical, physical, and cognitive functioning, which make their ability to adapt to severe climate events extremely challenging and the health impacts of exposure to such events more severe [5]. ...
Full-text available
Article
Older people are under-represented in the climate change movement yet are highly susceptible to the negative effects of climate change. This study’s objectives were to identify possible barriers faced by older persons to increase their pro-environmental behaviors and participation in the climate movement. Relying on in-depth qualitative interviews and focus groups with 50 older persons from four different population groups in Israel, we identified three themes. The first theme concerned assigning responsibility for the current climate situation. This theme addressed the question of who is seen as responsible for the current situation. The second theme covered actions taken by older persons to address the current situation. Finally, older persons view governments/municipalities, industry, and individuals as responsible for the changing climate, with a more traditional segment of the population also viewing God as responsible. Moreover, although governments were identified as important institutions with relevance to the current climate challenge, respondents mainly acknowledged the relevance of pro-environmental behaviors rather than climate change activism. In conclusion, the findings highlight the need to increase environmental activism among older persons. It is also important to increase the breadth of possible pro-environmental behaviors older persons can engage with.
... Some studies have only focused on the health impact of climate and natural disasters in elderly adults [13][14][15]. A few studies have carried out research to understand how older adults can adapt to climatic change that might be affected by changes to family networks and migration [16]. To ensure social equality in flood resilience, the ultimate goal of this research is to expand the database to address the gap in understanding the potential challenges faced by the elderly in flood disasters, for both reducing their exposure and vulnerabilities and strengthening their capacity to deal with flood risk in their community. ...
Full-text available
Article
This research aimed at assessing flood hazard areas and flood literacy of the elderly population in Bangkok, Thailand and analyzing their flood preparedness through SWOT analysis. Expert interviews and a community survey were conducted. Using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and GIS technique, the results indicated that land-use, drainage density, and annual maximum rainfall were the most heavily weighted factors in flood hazard mapping in Bangkok. About half (50.32%) of Bangkok’s total area was defined as high flood hazard area. A total of 736 questionnaires were distributed in flood-prone areas and in the areas with the highest percentage of elderly population. The results of both SWOT and survey analysis found that many senior citizens have low digital and media literacy and limited experience in using information technology for flood preparedness. Lack of integration of disaster risk reduction and aging population policy, ineffective warning system, and lack of access to disaster preparedness training were the key barriers in reducing vulnerability to flood hazard. The survey revealed that the majority of elderly respondents (75%) have neither used online applications for their flood hazard management both before and during flood disaster nor shared/communicated information via online platforms. Some respondents (13%) used Facebook and Line applications to obtain information before a flood event. Very few of the elderly respondents (<2%) accessed the national/provincial web-based platform to find out flood-related information. Almost all respondents, especially who are living in high-risk flood zones, had never participated in the community training of flood preparedness and management. Therefore, effective strategies in enhancing social engagement of the elderly and their literacy skills in flood risk preparedness and management are urgently needed.
... Despite extreme weather events, apart from the direct effects of disasters, there is also the interruption or difficulty of access to healthcare, as well as depression or post-traumatic shock. 7 In addition to physiological characteristics, repeated exposure to these effects also plays a key role, leading to a cumulative effect. 8 Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, low educational level, scarcity or absence of family and social networks may also increase the vulnerability of this population group to climate change. ...
Full-text available
Article
Introduction Climate change is a global problem that affects human health, especially the most vulnerable groups, including the elderly. However, no scope review includes the perspective of institutions specialised in climate change and health and whose reports are the basis for policies orientated on the environmental health. Therefore, this study aims to identify these effects on older people health. The results will allow health professionals to have valuable information enabling them to provide quality care in meeting the demand that this situation is producing. Methods and analysis A scoping review of the relevant literature will be performed from 2008 to 2021. The Joanna Briggs Institute guidelines and the PRISMA-Scoping Review Extension checklist will be used. A peer-reviewed search will be conducted using the electronic databases Medline, Scopus, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Cochrane, PsycINFO and Cuiden Plus between October and December 2021. Original quantitative studies and reports from official agencies on the effects of climate change on the elderly health in any health and geographical context will be included. Literature selection will be made by two reviewers. The table format used for data extraction will be reviewed by the review team and tested by two reviewers. Ethics and dissemination This study does not require approval by an ethics committee to be conducted. This article will result in the mapping of the direct and indirect effects of climate change on the health of the elderly. The results will be published in scientific journals to be accessible to health professionals in the creation of care plans for the elderly at climate risk.
... Do pierwszej należą te wynikające z większego narażenia osób starszych na zagrożenie. Do drugiej należą te, które są kombinacją narażenia oraz większej reaktywności rozumianej jako cecha starzenia się 39 . ...
Full-text available
Article
Streszczenie: Bez prawa do życia nie ma mowy o prawach człowieka. Dlatego trzeba o nim mówić, zwłaszcza w obliczu największego współcześnie zagrożenia przed jakim stoi ludzkość, czyli zmian klimatycznych. Artykuł składa się z trzech części. W pierwszej przedstawia, jak zmiany klimatu zagrażają życiu i zdrowiu ludzi a także, które grupy społeczne są najbardziej zagrożone ich utratą. W drugiej części, autor mając świadomość, że prawo z reguły zawodzi gdy chodzi o ochronę życia i zdrowia ofiar zmian klimatu, za-prezentował kilka najnowszych aktów prawnych, z zakresu francuskiego i amerykańskiego porządku prawnego oraz prawa międzynarodowego, które próbują tę ochronę zwiększyć. Analizie poddano wyrok z 18 grudnia 2020 r. francuskiego sądu apelacyjnego w Bordeaux, Rozporządzenie wykonawcze w sprawie odbudowy i ulepszenia programów przesiedlania uchodźców oraz planowania wpływu zmian klimatycznych na migrację, wydane 4 lutego 2021 r. przez nowego Prezydenta Stanów Zjednoczonych Josepha R. Bidena Jr. oraz Opinię Komitetu Praw Człowieka z 7 stycznia 2020 r.
... In this paper, we have drawn on the different fields of gerontology, consumption and environmental sustainability, and in so doing have sought to move critical work on the consumption and divestment practices of the current generation of retirees into the arenas of sustainable lifestyles and consumption. Within this arena, existing work has tentatively explored retirement as a 'moment of change' for encouraging sustainable lifestyles, but has mostly focused on the oldest old and their vulnerability to climate change and environmental risks (Filiberto et al., 2008). Including a recognition of the diversity of later-life experiences, lifestyles, and consumption or divestment practices within sustainability research is timely, given those currently in the process of retiring, or approaching it, are greater in number, healthier and, for the most part, better off financially than preceding generations Boerenfijn et al., 2018). ...
Full-text available
Article
It has been argued that lifecourse transitions are transformative moments for individuals when lifestyles, habits and behaviours are potentially open to contemplation and change. Within sustainability research such ‘moments of change’ are regarded as offering potential to encourage less environmentally damaging consumption patterns. Research on consumption indicates that orientations to material goods and their affective significance are complex. Whilst sociological work understands attachment to things as integral to maintaining kinship relations, this is hard to reconcile with long-standing moral concerns about materialism and psychological research which indicates a negative relationship between the acquisition of material objects and wellbeing, and the environmental implications of acquiring and divesting ‘stuff’. Yet there has been little engagement with how older people orient to their material possessions and divestment, the implications of this for later-life wellbeing and for environmental sustainability. In this paper, we draw these different strands of work together to understand how retirees relate to their material possessions and their divestment. Drawing on serial interviews with individuals in the United Kingdom, we explore how the transition to retirement highlights the complexity of participants’ attachment to things. While some items had profound relational significance, others were experienced as troublesome. Decisions on what to divest were shaped by pragmatic considerations and levels of attachment, whilst modes of divestment were aligned with values of thrift.
... Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 1748 2 of 13 potential and ongoing environmental problems are threatening their health [11,12]. In order to protect themselves from environmental risks and to enjoy environmental amenities, they tend to value environmental protection and actively participate in environmentally friendly behavior [13,14]. ...
Full-text available
Article
Population change and environmental degradation have become two of the most pressing issues for sustainable development in the contemporary world, while the effect of population aging on pro-environmental behavior remains controversial. In this paper, we examine the effects of individual and population aging on pro-environmental behavior through multilevel analyses of cross-national data from 31 countries. Hierarchical linear models with random intercepts are employed to analyze the data. The findings reveal a positive relationship between aging and pro-environmental behavior. At the individual level, older people are more likely to participate in environmental behavior (b = 0.052, p < 0.001), and at the national level, living in a country with a greater share of older persons encourages individuals to behave sustainably (b = 0.023, p < 0.01). We also found that the elderly are more environmentally active in an aging society. The findings imply that the longevity of human beings may offer opportunities for the improvement of the natural environment.
... independence, and physiological changes that leave them less able to cope in times of distress (Filiberto et al. 2009 Phase Two was used to document climate change vulnerabilities within the focus areas. This phase was critical for building the case for adaptation strategy development and prioritization in Phase Three. ...
Full-text available
Thesis
This dissertation seeks to ethnographically understand the role of cultural heritage in climate change adaptation decision-making, and the mechanisms by which heritage is used to shape adaptation pathways for responding to climate-induced socio-ecological changes. Cultural heritage can broadly be understood as the practice of engaging with change through an ongoing social processing of the past. Research on cultural heritage to date has demonstrated the ways that heritage is closely linked to issues of identity, power, and sociocultural processes of change (Lafrenz Samuels 2018). In the context of climate change adaptation, heritage research has much to offer to a growing body of literature that points to the need to better understand the underlying sociocultural factors that affect social resilience and human adaptation (Cote and Nightingale 2012). This dissertation speaks to these calls in approaching heritage as a mechanism for carving climate change adaptation pathways. I explore the role of heritage as an adaptation pathway in the context of a collaborative adaptation planning project called the Integrated Coastal Resiliency Assessment (ICRA), which was carried out on the Deal Island Peninsula, a rural, low-lying area on the Maryland eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. I utilize qualitative methods in semi-structured interviewing, participant observation, and text analysis to ethnographically elucidate a range of heritage threads and to analyze how these threads shape collaborative adaptation decision-making through the ICRA process. Findings from this research identify three overarching heritage themes that are embedded in local Methodist traditions, traditional watermen livelihood practices, and histories of isolation and independence. I demonstrate how these threads are used to frame local understandings of socio-ecological change and climate change vulnerabilities on the Deal Island Peninsula. I also demonstrate how broader heritage deployments in the Chesapeake Bay shape local experiences of vulnerability through processes of disempowerment. I conclude with a discussion of how heritage is integrated into the ICRA process to facilitate a bottom-up decision-making process that re-empowers local actors in governing their own vulnerabilities. The main conclusion from this research points to the importance of considering heritage mobilization in climate change adaptation planning.
... Algunos autores consideran que las personas mayores tienen procesos de adaptación desiguales en ambientes similares (Filiberto et al., 2009), pero también el espacio público les condiciona porque no ofrece las mismas oportunidades sociales a las mujeres, los migrantes y los discapacitados. La adaptación de la persona mayor difiere en función de sus capacidades funcionales, como grado de discapacidad y dependencia, así como de su actitud y disponibilidad de activos y estrategias para ajustarse a las presiones del entorno urbano (Phillips et al., 2013). ...
Full-text available
Article
The study reflects on the strategies of adaptation to the urban environments in aging, with allusions to Latin America. The results indicate the existence of problems derived from analytical reductionism and the simplification of the theoretical models on environmental adaptation and aging. Maladjustment is determined by personal abilities (social exclusion, disability and dependency) and, mainly, urban physical-social problems. Likewise, environmental adaptation strategies for active aging in the place are proposed from the evaluation of personal assets, as well as the attributes and functions of the urban environment. El estudio reflexiona sobre las estrategias de adaptación a los entornos urbanos en el envejecimiento, con alusiones a América Latina. Los resultados indican la existencia de problemas derivados del reduccionismo analítico y la simplificación de los modelos teóricos sobre la adaptación ambiental y el envejecimiento. La desadaptación está determinada por las capacidades personales (exclusión social, discapacidad y dependencia) y, principalmente, por los problemas físico-sociales urbanos. Asimismo, se proponen estrategias de adaptación ambiental para el envejecimiento activo en el lugar, a partir de la evaluación de los activos personales, así como de los atributos y funciones del ambiente urbano.
... In Slovenia this is especially relevant for the small town of Nova Gorica on the west and for the Slovene littoral. Older individuals are more sensitive to infections and pathogens [69,71]. Facilitated spread or emergence of vector-, water-, and food-borne diseases is characterized for heat wave periods [72]. ...
Full-text available
Article
Background: Number of deaths increases during periods of elevated heat. Objectives: To examine whether differences in heat-related deaths between 2003 and 2015 occurred in Slovenia. Materials and Methods: We estimated relative risks for deaths for the observed diagnoses, sex, age, and area, as well as 95% confidence intervals and excess deaths associated with heat waves occurring in 2015 and 2003. For comparison between 2015 and 2003, we calculated relative risks ratio and 95% confidence intervals. Results: Statistically significant in 2015 were the following: age group 75+, all causes of deaths (RR = 1.10, 95% CI 1.00–1.22); all population, circulatory system diseases (RR = 1.14, 95% CI 1.01–1.30) and age group 75+, diseases of circulatory system (RR = 1.17, 95% CI 1.01–1.34). Statistically significant in 2003 were the following: female, age group 5–74, circulatory system diseases (RR = 1.69, 95% CI 1.08–2.62). Discussion: Comparison between 2015 and 2003, all, circulatory system diseases (RRR = 1.25, 95% CI 1.01–1.55); male, circulatory system diseases (RRR = 1.85, 95% CI 1.41–2.43); all, age group 75+ circulatory system diseases (RRR = 1.34, 95% CI 1.07–1.69); male, age group 75+, circulatory system diseases (RRR = 1.52, 95% CI 1.03–2.25) and female, age group 75+, circulatory system diseases (RRR = 1.43, 95% CI 1.08–1.89). Conclusions: Public health efforts are urgent and should address circulatory system causes and old age groups.
... There is a growing body of scientific literature demonstrating the specific risks posed by the climate and other global changes to vulnerable older people in the northern latitudes (e.g. Filiberto et al. 2011;Begum 2012). Hence, precise forecasting of the number of older people is crucial to preparing response programs. ...
Full-text available
Article
This paper provides updates on the geographical patterns in well-being of the population of the Barents region by applying indicators used in demography, public health, and environmental studies. In particular, we analyze recent demographic trends with regard to gender, age, ethnicity, and over time (1990−2015), considering depopulation, aging age structures, mortality and fertility patterns in connection with environmental changes. We investigate environmental effects on population health and living conditions of the Barents people, including the impact of air and water contamination, food insecurity, housing conditions, and new diseases driven by climate change. In addition, we highlight the importance of human capital (highest educational attainment of population) in tackling socio-economic challenges as well as adapting to climate and other sweeping changes occurring in the Barents region. Barents territories show inequalities in post-secondary educational attainment distribution between average nation-wide level and northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, based on the latest data available. The results and discussion suggest a significant variability across regions in the context of the studied parameters, except for life expectancy. The causes and consequences of the diversification of these trends need to be further investigated; as does the spatial distribution of societal well-being in the Barents region, an important geographical alliance in the northernmost part of Europe. The evidence presented in this review may help in the planning of adaptive community programs which respond to stresses in society, health, and the environment in the Barents region.
... Aged people in this case may be less vulnerable to the impact of extreme climatic and weather events because they have more resources at their disposal (which include capital in the form of livestock, agricultural implements and assets). However, other studies have shown that the elderly can be more vulnerable to the impact of extreme climatic and weather events because they are more susceptible to diseases; the negative stresses on food and water supply; and the decreased ability to recover swiftly from shocks (Filiberto et al. 2010). Younger household heads may be deemed less vulnerable to climate related disasters because they may be willing to try out new coping strategies and innovations as compared to the elderly (Adesina and Baidu-Forson 1995). ...
Full-text available
Article
Globally there is now a consensus that extreme climatic events are occurring and pose significant challenges, particularly for resource poor rural households. This paper assesses household vulnerability to climate change related disasters in the Eastern Cape (EC) Province in South Africa. The Household Vulnerability Index (HVI) was used to determine the levels of vulnerability to climate change related disasters by households. Data from 1546 households was collected, however only 1510 questionnaires were used for analysis. The majority (83%) of the households were found to be moderately vulnerable to climate change related disasters. A Tobit censored regression, used to determine the factors influencing household vulnerability to climate change related disasters, established that socioeconomic factors including age, marital status, highest level of education, employment status, health status, ownership of farm assets, receiving external support, income generating activities, livestock ownership and extension access were significant. The findings suggest that households need to be empowered in terms of their socioeconomic attributes, a move that will enhance adaptation and resilience under extreme climatic conditions.
... Older adults (generally defined as persons aged 65 and older) are vulnerable to the health impacts associated with climate change and weather extremes. 12,197,198,199 The number of older adults in the United States is projected to grow substantially in the coming decades. The nation's older adult population (ages 65 and older) will nearly double in number from 2015 through 2050, from approximately 48 million to 88 million. ...
Full-text available
Chapter
Vulnerability Varies Over Time and Is Place-Specific Key Finding 1: Across the United States, people and communities differ in their exposures, their inherent sensitivity, and their adaptive capacity to respond to and cope with climate change related health threats [Very High Confidence]. Vulnerability to climate change varies across time and location, across communities, and among individuals within communities [Very High Confidence]. Health Impacts Vary with Age and Life Stage Key Finding 2: People experience different inherent sensitivities to the impacts of climate change at different ages and life stages [High Confidence]. For example, the very young and the very old are particularly sensitive to climate-related health impacts. Social Determinants of Health Interact with Climate Factors to Affect Health Risks Key Finding 3: Climate change threatens the health of people and communities by affecting exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity [High Confidence]. Social determinants of health, such as those related to socioeconomic factors and health disparities, may amplify, moderate, or otherwise influence climate-related health effects, particularly when these factors occur simultaneously or close in time or space [High Confidence]. Mapping Tools and Vulnerability Indices Identify Climate Health Risks Key Finding 4: The use of geographic data and tools allows for more sophisticated mapping of risk factors and social vulnerabilities to identify and protect specific locations and groups of people [High Confidence].
... Secondly, some chronic diseases have a side-effect of reducing thermal sensitivity. Chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity worsen thermal sensitivity in the elderly (Patz et al. 2001; Filiberto et al. 2009). Diabetics may have peripheral nerve damage which leads to reduced sensitivity and delayed responses to heat exposure (Zanobetti et al. 2012). ...
... Secondly, some chronic diseases have a side-effect of reducing thermal sensitivity. Chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity worsen thermal sensitivity in the elderly (Patz et al. 2001;Filiberto et al. 2009). Diabetics may have peripheral nerve damage which leads to reduced sensitivity and delayed responses to heat exposure (Zanobetti et al. 2012). ...
Full-text available
Article
Defining thermal comfort in the elderly, particularly in the hot-humid climate zone, is an increasingly important issue. This paper is specifically aimed at identifying the gap in information on elderly perceptions of thermal comfort available in the existing literature. Research shows a 2–3°C rise in temperature can increase risk of morbidity and mortality for the elderly. However, there has been little research conducted on the elderly in terms of thermal comfort in tropical zones. Most of the thermal comfort research has occurred in other climate zones, although the findings may apply at least in principle to the tropics. Thermal comfort here is defined as covering thermal sensation and thermal preference. Thermal comfort ranges are also discussed. The elderly have much less thermal sensitivity than younger people and they experience delayed response to and less awareness of heat, which can lead to heat-related morbidity and mortality. Compared to subtropical and temperate climate zones where data are available, tropical Thailand has experienced the highest increase in elderly heat-related deaths of 13 percent over ten years. It is also estimated that the thermal comfort range of the aged in the tropics is likely to be distributed at a higher temperature than in cooler climates. ASHRAE also asserts that older people prefer a higher temperature than the young. Determining these relationships through this comprehensive literature review will help to benchmark the current position and identify the missing evidence to inform the necessary field research.
... Exacerbation of ambient heat during the summer period caused by heat waves and urban heat island may affect seriously older adults and vulnerable population and increase the risk to their lives (Gamble et al., 2013). It is well recognized that the sensitivity of the older population to climatic stress is much higher than of the average population (Filiberto et al., 2009). Higher ambient temperatures and exposure to air pollutants and toxicants usually affect the immune system of older adults and increase the cardiovascular and respiratory problems and cause higher mortality rates. ...
Article
The present paper discusses issues related to the three major problems of the built environment in Europe and in particular, the energy consumption of buildings, the energy poverty and the local climate change. The article introduces the idea of a zero concept world where the global impact of the three specific sectors will be diminished. The paper analyses the actual status of each sector and identifies the main problems. It discusses and sets a road map to satisfy this objective, involving future quantitative and qualitative targets for the three considered sectors while it investigates the major technological, economic and social forces and policies that have to be employed in order to minimize the energy consumption of buildings, eradicate the energy poverty and mitigate the local climate change. The links, synergies and impacts between them are analysed in a comprehensive way and the interrelated nature and characteristics of the three sectors is highlighted. The mechanisms to transform the actual problems into opportunities and appropriate drivers for future development are identified and analysed. A road map involving a full estimation of the necessary investments to fulfil the defined targets is presented. The major medium and long term benefits for the society, including the impact on the economy, employment, the environment and health are fully quantified and analysed.
... In addition, mental health problems are more common among socially disadvantaged people, 22 and so adverse weather events are expected to have a greater effect on the mental health of vulnerable subpopulations. 23 Longitudinal data are needed to strengthen the evidence base for policy. 24 By using longitudinal data, the effects of drought on mental health can be investigated in the same individuals, effectively using the individuals as their own controls. ...
Article
To evaluate the impact of drought on the mental health of rural Australian women and those in vulnerable sub-populations: women who were more isolated, poorer and less educated; and women who had histories of chronic disease or poor mental health. Surveys were mailed in 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2008 to 6,664 women born between 1946 and1951 who were participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. The surveys included the Mental Health Index of the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36 (MHI). Drought was assessed by linking the latitude and longitude of women's place of residence at each survey to the Hutchinson Drought Index. Associations between MHI and drought were assessed using linear mixed-models. While 31% of the women experienced drought in 1998 and 50% experienced drought in 2007; experience of droughts was less common in the other years. Although drought varied from survey year to survey year, mental health did not vary with drought conditions for rural women or vulnerable sub-populations. These findings are contrary to the long-held assumption that droughts increase mental health problems in Australia. While similar results may not be true for men, empirical evidence (rather than assumptions) is required on associations between drought and mental health. © 2015 Public Health Association of Australia.
... Persons who are physically unable to undertake certain adaptations will be at higher risk as will those who are unaware of preventive measures. Evidence shows that older persons are particularly susceptible to heat-related morbidity with ageing and poor health being contributing factors to vulnerability [4,5] Furthermore, older people will be particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change [6]. With this knowledge, public health authorities need to consider evidence-based avenues to minimise present and future susceptibility in this group. ...
Article
A major heatwave occurred in Australia in early 2009 with considerable and varied health impacts in South Australia (SA) and Victoria. The aim of this study was to investigate the heat-adaptive behaviours of older people in these states. A computer-assisted telephone survey of 1000 residents of SA and Victoria aged 65 years or older was conducted at the end of summer 2010-2011. The majority of respondents reported undertaking heat-adaptive behaviours. In SA, there was a significantly higher proportion of households with air conditioning compared to Victoria, and a higher recall of heat-health messages. In both states, self-reported morbidity during heatwaves was higher in women, persons with poorer health and those with cardiovascular conditions. An increase in global temperatures in conjunction with an ageing population is a concern for public health. Our findings suggest acclimatisation to hot weather may influence behaviours and health outcomes in older people.
... These effects are observed more commonly in particular vulnerable subpopulations including the elderly, people with chronic illness and those living in urban centres (Abrahamson et al., 2008;White-Newsome et al., 2009), as well as migrants and ethnic minorities (Cheng & Newbold, 2010). Older people are among the most at risk due to reduced physical and economic capacity, and isolation, all of which limit adaptive capacity (Filiberto et al., 2009). Low income groups are disproportionately at risk of coastal flooding (Kovats et al., 2010). ...
Full-text available
Book
In the international literature on climate change there is an emerging concern that the negative effects of climate change will be disproportionately experienced by those who are economically and socially disadvantaged, further widening the gap between them and more advantaged population groups. However, the relationship between climate change impact and social disadvantage remains little investigated. This study has sought to contribute to this gap by adding to the small body of empirical knowledge of the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of disadvantaged groups in Australia in the face of impending adverse impacts of climate change. The study provides a discussion of the historical and future climate trends and its implications for the population. However, it goes on to discuss the concept of social vulnerability in the international literature and to show that at the local level population vulnerability to climate change is more likely to be defined by the socio-economic differences in the community, than by environmental impact. Adding to the wide discussion of the concept and operationalization of climate vulnerability this study adapted an approach of developing a measure of social exclusion as a way of measuring social vulnerability and adaptive capacity. The study uses ABS 2011 Population Census data to measure social vulnerability at LGA level. It also uses quantitative data collected from 1800 CATI interviews in three contrasting communities in South Australia (Port Pirie, Port Adelaide Enfield and Berri/Barmera), as well as qualitative data from 57 in-depth face-to-face interviews with disadvantaged households, and 13 interviews with the main stakeholders in these LGAs. Using ABS 2011 Census data, the study maps separate indicators, as well as the composite index of social exclusion across the LGAs in South Australia to identify the areas with the highest level of social exclusion. It then uses the concept of social exclusion to study vulnerability of disadvantaged groups to the impact of climate change at household level. The results of the quantitative and qualitative data analyses provide a deeper understanding of the characteristics of social exclusion among disadvantaged groups, as well as of the associations between disadvantage, social exclusion and vulnerability of households in South Australia. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of potential policy interventions to enhance resilience and decrease the negative impacts of climate change for disadvantaged groups.
... Moreover, about 20% of older Americans resided in a county where a hurricane or tropical storm was likely to make landfall over the 10-year period from 1995 through 2005. There also appeared to be a higher concentration of low-income older adults in at-risk locations (Filiberto et al. 2009;Zimmerman et al. 2007). ...
Full-text available
Article
Background: Older adults make up 13% of the U.S. population, but are projected to account for 20% by 2040. Coinciding with this demographic shift, the rate of climate change is accelerating, bringing rising temperatures; increased risk of floods, droughts, and wildfires; stronger tropical storms and hurricanes; rising sea levels; and other climate-related hazards. Older Americans are expected to be located in places that may be relatively more affected by climate change, including coastal zones and large metropolitan areas. Objective: The objective of this review is to assess the vulnerability of older Americans to climate change and to identify opportunities for adaptation. Methods: We performed an extensive literature survey and summarized key findings related to demographics; climate stressors relevant to older adults; factors contributing to exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity; and adaptation strategies. Discussion: A range of physiological and socioeconomic factors make older adults especially sensitive to and/or at risk for exposure to heat waves and other extreme weather events (e.g., hurricanes, floods, droughts), poor air quality, and infectious diseases. Climate change may increase the frequency or severity of these events. Conclusions: Older Americans are likely to be especially vulnerable to stressors associated with climate change. Although a growing body of evidence reports the adverse effects of heat on the health of older adults, research gaps remain for other climate-related risks. We need additional study of the vulnerability of older adults and the interplay of vulnerability, resilience, and adaptive responses to projected climate stressors.
... First, public health research suggests that environmental threats may disproportionately compromise the health of the older population. These risks are likely to increase as the effects of climate change are felt (Filiberto et al., 2010). The older population is at greater risk for adverse health effects from extreme temperatures, susceptibility to disease, stresses on the food and water supply, and reduced ability to mobilize quickly (Geller & Zenick, 2005;Haq, Whiteleg, & Kohler, 2008). ...
Article
This article presents the results of a multidisciplinary consensus conference held to recommend a research agenda on the relationship between aging and environmental sustainability and conservation. The intersection of these two topics has important implications for the health and well-being of older persons but it has thus far received little scientific attention. The consensus conference was conducted with gerontological experts from various disciplines and environmental scientists. Using a structured methodology, participants achieved consensus on recommendations for a research agenda on aging and environmental sustainability. Eight major recommendations for research are detailed in this article as well as cross-cutting research themes affecting all areas, including racial and economic diversity, geographical region, cohort, and intergenerational linkages. Given the vulnerability of older persons to environmental threats detailed by the consensus conference, conferees recommended that research on these topics be urgently promoted, both by researchers and by funding agencies.
Chapter
This chapter will shed light on recent human rights practices at the international and national level, as well as on that of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), in order to pinpoint how children have been considered, and could further be considered, as receptive of environmental protection in so far as beneficiaries of rights revendicated by others, such as NGOs or members of their families, as well as potential environmental human rights holders who promote and vindicate themselves of the negative impact environmental degradation and climate change has on their, and future generations’, rights. Children in fact should be considered as part of tomorrow’s generations. In recognizing this, the protection of the environmental rights of the members of the future generations who are already among us (i.e. children) would become a means of caring for future generations. Children appear as ‘the embodiment of future generations’, making the division between present and future generations less sharp than it sometimes appears to be and shifting the line between future generations and today’s children every time another baby arrives on the planet and inherits their full entitlement of human rights. This has the immediate concrete result of re-orienting and reframing the climate debate to one that emphasizes impacts on people, motivating strong action to address the problem. This further opens the possibility to ensure that environmental and climate governance is genuinely based on the inclusion of these individuals’ interests while reflecting individuals’ priorities and preferences (rather than broader developmental ones) with potentially disruptive novelties as to jurisdiction arise to the geographic extent and substantive scope of State responsibility for environmental harm, shifting human rights law into the realm of transnational justice, as understood to encompass both political and social justice on the domestic level and global justice on the international plane.Keywordshuman rightsenvironmental rightsfuture generationschildrenlocus standijurisdictionextraterritorialitydue diligenceviolationsriskthird parties interventionsocial justicediscriminationright to liferight to private and family lifesocial rights
Full-text available
Article
Older people are more vulnerable to climate change and with its increasing elderly population, inadequate research on the health impacts of climate change has focused on this particular population in China. This study evaluates climate change and health-related knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of elderly residents in three cities Suzhou, Hefei and Xiamen. This cross-sectional study included 3466 participants. Data analysis was undertaken using descriptive methods (Chi-square test). Results showed that the elderly were most concerned about heatwaves, flooding and drought and the main perceived health risks included heatstroke and respiratory diseases. Finally, over half of the participants from Suzhou city reported that they did not receive enough government assistance in extreme events (56%). Findings from this work provide important insights for new adaptation strategies targeting the elderly population. It is recommended that the government should focus on creating awareness of the necessary adaptations the elderly will need to take to alleviate the impact of climate change on their physical health.
Article
While the environment is fundamental to humankind’s wellbeing, to date, social work has been largely focused on the social, rather than the physical, environment. To map how the broader environment is captured in the profession’s foundational documents, an exploratory sequential mixed methods study (QUAL → quan) analysed data from 64 social work codes of ethics. Findings indicate that although the environment is mentioned in the majority of these, there is a continued focus on the social, overlooking to some degree the physical, predominantly the built, environment. A more holistic understanding of the environment would enable social work to better fulfil its commitment to human rights and social justice.
Article
It is a fact that energy saving depends not only on countries’ environmental policies but also on citizens’ ways of responding to these actions. This indicates the need to thoroughly investigate how households’ attitudes are shaped to understand the driving factors enhancing pro-environmental attitudes. However, it is also important to understand how people judge countries’ environmental performances. To the best of our knowledge, there are few studies that have tried to observe people’s evaluations and reactions to the way countries conduct their economic activities or, generally, to the way they exploit and produce the energy required. Hence, we jointly considered both countries’ environmental performances and their citizens’ feelings about them. In particular, we focused on two main aspects: (i) citizens’ fear of energy cutoff and (ii) related preferences for the adoption of green policies. This study aimed to underline that an energy-intensive economy scares citizens, who claim for green policies as a reaction to this perception. In this case, people are claiming for more environmental protection. All of these lead to the conclusion that it is not viable to implement a policy by sidestepping the potential response of citizens, and it is not convenient to disregard the current preferences of citizens while framing future policies.
Chapter
The African Union 2063 Agenda confirms that Africa bears the brunt of the impact of climate change. It becomes more troublesome for older adults who are frail and vulnerable. Lack of eco-friendly policies and activities in Nigeria is a challenge. The study sampled 11 older adults aged over 65 years who dwell within the Nsukka campus of the University of Nigeria. A combination of purposive and snowball sampling techniques was adopted, while analysis was done thematically. Findings showed that the older adults reported health, economic, and social implications of climate change on them. They suggested the need for vanguards of ecological rights, promotion of eco-friendly culture for Nigeria, and promulgation of policies addressing climate change, so as to cushion the impacts of climate change on them. The roles “green-oriented” social workers could play are discussed.
Article
Portugal (Southwestern Europe) experiences a high incidence of dry hazards such as drought, a phenomenon that entails a notable burden of morbidity and mortality worldwide. For the first time in the Lisbon district, a time-series study was conducted to evaluate the impact of drought measured by the Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI) and Standardised Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) on the daily natural, circulatory, and respiratory mortality from 1983 to 2016. An assessment by gender and adult age population groups (45-64, 65-74, ≥75 years old) was included. To estimate the relative risks and attributable risks, generalised linear models with a Poisson link were used. Additionally, the influence of heatwaves and atmospheric pollution for the period from 2007 to 2016 (available period for pollution data) was considered. The main findings indicate statistically significant associations between drought conditions and all analysed causes of mortality. Moreover, SPEI shows an improved capability to reflect the different risks. People in the 45-64 year- old group did not indicate any significant influence in any of the cases, whereas the oldest groups had the highest risk. The drought effects on mortality among the population varied across the different study periods, and in general, the men population was affected more than the women population (except for the SPEI and circulatory mortality during the long study period). The shortterm influence of droughts on mortality could be explained primarily by the effect of heatwaves and pollution; however, when both gender and age were considered in the Poisson models, the effect of drought also remained statistically significant when all climatic phenomena were included for specific groups of the total population and men. This type of study facilitates a better understanding of the population at risk and allows the development of more effective measures to mitigate the drought effects on the population.
Article
Climate change is acknowledged as being a crucial determinant of public health. The United States is experiencing an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters as a result of climate change activity, influencing the ways federal, state, and local governments are addressing the growing issue. Individuals who are vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather, namely the poor, the elderly/disabled, children, prisoners, and substance abusers have experienced heightened levels of mental, emotional, and bodily stress due to natural disaster exposure. Researchers from a variety of disciplines, public health, social science, and environmental studies, in particular, are examining how natural disasters are impacting mental and physical health functioning while noting the demographic factors leaving certain groups more susceptible to harm. A systematic literature review was conducted on the past 12 years of research that examined natural disaster-related experiences and psychological and physiological health outcomes on populations who are more vulnerable to adverse weather impacts. It was found that the mental and physical health of marginalized populations during and after a natural disaster were elevated and/or exacerbated by circumstances pertaining to the weather event and the lack of disaster-response actions. It was also found that fostering social capital is a way to combat stressors in disadvantaged communities. It is imperative that clinicians and policy makers confront the issue of climate change and natural disasters, developing relief efforts and preventative measures to secure the well-being of underserved groups who may not have many resources at their disposal.
Full-text available
Article
Older adults are among those at greatest risk for suffering the negative effects of climate change. Yet their attitudes and practices associated with the natural environment have not often been explored. Within the framework of the Theory of Planned Behaviour, this paper reports on a mixed methods study of the attitudes and practices of older adults who are concerned about the environment. Results suggest that attitudes, the influence of others and a sense of control shape voluntary stewardship in older adults in both small and intensive ways – highlighting the need to expand existing definitions of eco-volunteerism. Activities include recycling, composting, protesting, purchasing local food and products, using land sustainably and engaging in advocacy. This study suggests that myths about older adults as passive victims of climate change may be erroneous, as they actively engage as volunteer stewards who work separately and together on the problems that affect our planet.
Chapter
This chapter is essentially speculative, considering possible health-related consequences for older persons of climate change events should these occur. The Asia-Pacific region and its Southeast Asian subregion has almost a third of the world’s older persons. The heterogeneity of older cohorts should be recognised and not stereotyped as uniformly vulnerable. Nevertheless, older persons will generally be more vulnerable than other age groups to events such as extreme heat and other climate stressors. Risks may be raised for ischaemic heart disease, stroke, COPD, acute lower respiratory disease and lung cancer, affecting older groups disproportionately. Higher temperatures are also associated with sudden-onset weather emergency events such as typhoons and associated heavy rainfall, flooding and damage to property and life. Many parts of the region are susceptible to such events, along with neighbouring countries in East and South Asia. Many types of infectious diseases will also be affected by temperature rises. Expansion is likely of areas at risk from malaria, dengue and other parasitic or infectious conditions. For example, small temperature increases could raise both latitude and altitude at which mosquitoes could breed and affect humans. Other risks include increasing incidence of food poisoning and threats to food security as extreme climate events and disease can disrupt food production. Finally, climate change can impact psychological and mental health. Older persons will be relatively at greater risk, especially those with dementias who may be less able to cope with adverse conditions. The severity of climate change impacts will be mediated by political and socio-economic factors and adaptive strategies, so forward planning by governments is essential.
Article
The impending form and extent of climate change and its direct impacts present disproportionate challenges for the most socially and economically disadvantaged groups within populations. Evaluating the vulnerability of disadvantaged groups in the context of climate change has presented tremendous theoretical, methodological and policy challenges especially where vulnerability assessment research is focused at the local community level. This study addresses the challenges by developing an interdisciplinary methodology, based on expert knowledge, and uses the state of South Australia as a case study. It focuses on key indicators that measure the exposure of local communities to climate change and socio-economic vulnerabilities of local populations. A main contribution in this study is the novel incorporation of physical, environmental and socio-demographic data sets and extensive use of spatial modelling and estimation methods to spatially define climate change and social vulnerability “hot spots”. This paper assesses vulnerability under moderate and high Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change CO2 emission scenarios in order to generate an assessment model to be used before planning is done. The result is the creation of a practical tool through which decision-makers can better understand how the complexity of one's local spatial context influences the unique exposure, which different vulnerable communities have, to the impacts of climate change. This paper presents a useful tool that can be used in the initial assessment phase by planners and policy-makers to better assist those who are limited in their ability to adapt to climate change.
Article
Population aging and environmental sustainability appear to be on a collision course. Concurrent with the increasing needs of older adults for more goods, services, and housing, concern for the environmental impact of this population is growing. Environmental sustainability efforts by assisted living facilities (ALFs) were queried using an online survey focusing on the following four areas: facility information, sustainable practices, motivations to green, and views of sustainable certification. The survey was sent to 800 ALFs from 34 states. The results indicated movement toward environmental sustainability, primarily connection to community, interaction with nature, and quality of life improvement for residents and staff. This study also depicts the challenges of greening while keeping human well-being a top priority. Furthermore, administrators of ALFs were largely uninformed about greening but viewed the costs and paperwork as barriers to greening and certification. Suggestions for future research, education, and the promotion of greening in ALFs are proposed.
Full-text available
Article
This paper quantitatively assesses the influences of various demographic and socio-economic factors, past adaptive behavioral factors, access to weather/climate information, and spatial/locational factors on coastal populations’ perceived adaptive capacity against major impacts of hydro-meteorological disasters on their livelihood. A total of 285 respondents from three coastal villages in Bangladesh were randomly interviewed between January and April 2009. Respondents rated their perceived adaptive capacity against 25 anticipated impacts of sea-level rise (SLR)-induced events on their livelihood. By employing the principal component analysis (PCA), perceived adaptive capacity was grouped into five major categories. Then, an adaptive capacity index for each of five major impacts, namely, “infrastructure damage and disrupted mobility,” “food and nutritional insecurity,” “low earning and higher cost of maintenance,” “loss of employment in offshore activities,” and “crisis of potable water and public health risk,” was prepared. How adaptive capacity against each of these major five categories of impacts differs due to the influence of various factors was assessed by employing the multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) technique. The MANOVAs show that age, sex, level of education, type of occupation, farmland holdings, past adaptive behavior against rainfall, salinity intrusion, freshwater crises, use of radio for weather information, and the distance of the homestead from the shoreline have varying levels of influence on respondents’ perceived adaptive capacity against each of the five major categories of impacts. Others factors have moderate to limited influences. The policy implication is that specific programs, rather than a generic one-size fits all program, must be initiated for enhancement of adaptive capacity against specific impacts. KeywordsAdaptive capacity–Climate change–Hydro-meteorological events–Livelihood security–Bangladesh
Full-text available
Article
We discuss approaches to the assessment of vulnerability to climate variability and change and attempt to clarify the relationship between the concepts of vulnerability and adaptation. In search of a robust, policy-relevant framework, we define vulnerability in terms of the capacity of individuals and social groups to respond to, that is, to cope with, recover from or adapt to, any external stress placed on their livelihoods and well-being. The approach that we develop places the social and economic well-being of society at the centre of the analysis, focussing on the socio-economic and institutional constraints that limit the capacity to respond. From this perspective, the vulnerability or security of any group is determined by resource availability and by the entitlement of individuals and groups to call on these resources. We illustrate the application of this approach through the results of field research in coastal Vietnam, highlighting shifting patterns of vulnerability to tropical storm impacts at the household- and community-level in response to the current process of economic renovation and drawing conclusions concerning means of supporting the adaptive response to climate stress. Four priorities for action are identified that would improve the situation of the most exposed members of many communities: poverty reduction; risk-spreading through income diversification; respecting common property management rights; and promoting collective security. A sustainable response, we argue, must also address the underlying causes of social vulnerability, including the inequitable distribution of resources.
Full-text available
Chapter
This report explores the vulnerability of an ageing population to the direct and indirect effects resulting from a changing climate. It discusses the key factors which might determine an individual’s ability to cope with a threat posed by climate change. It highlights the key areas which might affect the health and well-being of people in old age. The report sets out the known facts about the sociology of older people plus the implications of climate change for this demographic group. It builds upon research conducted by the Stockholm Environment Institute on attitudes of older people to climate change as part of a DEFRA funded Climate Change Communication project as well as a national workshop it convened to generate ideas and thoughts from the grass-roots. Although the attitudes and views of older people are wide ranging, they confirm that older people feel strongly that they need to be included in the discussions and formulation of policies and approaches to address the challenge of climate change.
Full-text available
Article
Climate models project that heat waves will increase in frequency and severity. Despite many studies of mortality from heat waves, few studies have examined morbidity. In this study we investigated whether any age or race/ethnicity groups experienced increased hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits overall or for selected illnesses during the 2006 California heat wave. We aggregated county-level hospitalizations and ED visits for all causes and for 10 cause groups into six geographic regions of California. We calculated excess morbidity and rate ratios (RRs) during the heat wave (15 July to 1 August 2006) and compared these data with those of a reference period (8-14 July and 12-22 August 2006). During the heat wave, 16,166 excess ED visits and 1,182 excess hospitalizations occurred statewide. ED visits for heat-related causes increased across the state [RR = 6.30; 95% confidence interval (CI), 5.67-7.01], especially in the Central Coast region, which includes San Francisco. Children (0-4 years of age) and the elderly (> or = 65 years of age) were at greatest risk. ED visits also showed significant increases for acute renal failure, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, electrolyte imbalance, and nephritis. We observed significantly elevated RRs for hospitalizations for heat-related illnesses (RR = 10.15; 95% CI, 7.79-13.43), acute renal failure, electrolyte imbalance, and nephritis. The 2006 California heat wave had a substantial effect on morbidity, including regions with relatively modest temperatures. This suggests that population acclimatization and adaptive capacity influenced risk. By better understanding these impacts and population vulnerabilities, local communities can improve heat wave preparedness to cope with a globally warming future.
Full-text available
Article
Information about circumstances leading to disaster-related deaths helps emergency response coordinators and other public health officials respond to the needs of disaster victims and develop policies for reducing the mortality and morbidity of future disasters. In this paper, we describe the decedent population, circumstances of death, and population-based mortality rates related to Hurricane Andrew, and propose recommendations for evaluating and reducing the public health impact of natural disasters. To ascertain the number and circumstances of deaths attributed to Hurricane Andrew in Florida and Louisiana, we contacted medical examiners in 11 Florida counties and coroners in 36 Louisiana parishes. In Florida medical examiners attributed 44 deaths to the hurricane. The mortality rate for directly-related deaths was 4.4 per 1 000 000 population and that for indirectly-related deaths was 8.5 per 1 000 000 population. In Louisiana, coroners attributed 11 resident deaths to the hurricane. Mortality rates were 0.6 per 1000 000 population for deaths directly related to the storm and 2.8 for deaths indirectly related to the storm. Six additional deaths occurred among non-residents who drowned in international waters in the Gulf of Mexico. In both Florida and Louisiana, mortality rates generally increased with age and were higher among whites and males. In addition to encouraging people to follow existing recommendations, we recommend emphasizing safe driving practices during evacuation and clean-up, equipping shelters with basic medical needs for the population served, and modifying zoning and housing legislation. We also recommend developing and using a standard definition for disaster-related deaths, and using population-based statistics to describe the public health effectiveness of policies intended to reduce disaster-related mortality.
Full-text available
Article
The rapid growth in the number of older Americans has many implications for public health, including the need to better understand the risks posed to older adults by environmental exposures. Biologic capacity declines with normal aging; this may be exacerbated in individuals with pre-existing health conditions. This decline can result in compromised pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic responses to environmental exposures encountered in daily activities. In recognition of this issue, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing a research agenda on the environment and older adults. The U.S. EPA proposes to apply an environmental public health paradigm to better understand the relationships between external pollution sources --> human exposures --> internal dose --> early biologic effect --> adverse health effects for older adults. The initial challenge will be using information about aging-related changes in exposure, pharmacokinetic, and pharmacodynamic factors to identify susceptible subgroups within the diverse population of older adults. These changes may interact with specific diseases of aging or medications used to treat these conditions. Constructs such as "frailty" may help to capture some of the diversity in the older adult population. Data are needed regarding a) behavior/activity patterns and exposure to the pollutants in the microenvironments of older adults; b) changes in absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion with aging; c) alterations in reserve capacity that alter the body's ability to compensate for the effects of environmental exposures; and d) strategies for effective communication of risk and risk reduction methods to older individuals and communities. This article summarizes the U.S. EPA's development of a framework to address and prioritize the exposure, health effects, and risk communications concerns for the U.S. EPA's evolving research program on older adults as a susceptible subpopulation.
Full-text available
Article
Public health measures need to be implemented to prevent heat-related illness and mortality in the community and in institutions that care for elderly or vulnerable people. Heat health warning systems (HHWS) link public health actions to meteorological forecasts of dangerous weather. Such systems are being implemented in Europe in the absence of strong evidence of the effectiveness of specific measures in reducing heatwave mortality or morbidity. Passive dissemination of heat avoidance advice is likely to be ineffective given the current knowledge of high-risk groups. HHWS should be linked to the active identification and care of high-risk individuals. The systems require clear lines of responsibility for the multiple agencies involved (including the weather service, and the local health and social care agencies). Other health interventions are necessary in relation to improved housing, and the care of the elderly at home and vulnerable people in institutions. European countries need to learn from each other how to prepare for and effectively cope with heatwaves in the future. Including evaluation criteria in the design of heatwave early warning systems will help ensure effective and efficient system operation.
Full-text available
Article
In February 2006 the John A. Hartford Foundation funded a long-term care "Hurricane Summit," sponsored by the Florida Health Care Association. Representatives from five Gulf Coast states that sustained hurricane damage during 2005 and from Georgia, a receiving state for hurricane evacuees, attended. Summit participants evaluated disaster preparedness, response, and recovery for long-term care provider networks and identified gaps that impeded safe resident evacuation and disaster response. The meeting identified emergency response system issues that require coordination between long-term care providers and state and federal emergency operations centers. Five areas warranting further attention are presented as lessons learned and potential areas for grant making.
Full-text available
Article
To evaluate if the effects of particulate matter (PM(10)) on respiratory mortality of elderly people are affected by socioeconomic status. Time series studies. The daily number of elderly respiratory deaths were modelled in generalised linear Poisson regression models controlling for long term trend, weather, and day of the week, from January 1997 to December 1999, in six different regions of São Paulo City, Brazil. The regions were defined according to the proximity of air pollution monitoring stations. Three socioeconomic indicators were used: college education, monthly income, and housing. For a 10 micro g/m(3) increase in PM(10), the percentage increase in respiratory mortality varied from 1.4% (95% CI 5.9 to 8.7) to 14.2% (95% CI 0.4 to 28.0). The overall percentage increase in the six regions was 5.4% (95% CI 2.3 to 8.6). The effect of PM(10) was negatively correlated with both percentage of people with college education and high family income, and it was positively associated with the percentage of people living in slums. These results suggest that socioeconomic deprivation represents an effect modifier of the association between air pollution and respiratory deaths.
Article
The changing demographic landscape of the United States calls for a reassessment of the societal impacts and consequences of so-called "natural" and technological disasters. An increasing trend towards greater demographic and socio-economic diversity (in part due to high rates of international immigration), combined with mounting disaster losses, have brought about a more serious focus among scholars on how changing population patterns shape the vulnerability and resiliency of social systems. Recent disasters, such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004) and Hurricane Katrina (2005), point to the differential impacts of disasters on certain communities, particularly those that do not have the necessary resources to cope with and recover from such events. This paper interprets these impacts within the context of economic, cultural, and social capital, as well as broader human ecological forces. The paper also makes important contributions to the social science disaster research literature by examining population growth, composition, and distribution in the context of disaster risk and vulnerability. Population dynamics (e.g., population growth, migration, and urbanization) are perhaps one of the most important factors that have increased our exposure to disasters and have contributed to the devastating impacts of these events, as the case of Hurricane Katrina illustrates. Nevertheless, the scientific literature exploring these issues is quite limited. We argue that if we fail to acknowledge and act on the mounting evidence regarding population composition, migration, inequality, and disaster vulnerability, we will continue to experience disasters with greater regularity and intensity.
Article
This article identifies social justice dilemmas associated with the necessity to adapt to climate change, examines how they are currently addressed by the climate change regime, and proposes solutions to overcome prevailing gaps and ambiguities. We argue that the key justice dilemmas of adaptation include responsibility for climate change impacts, the level and burden sharing of assistance to vulnerable countries for adaptation, distribution of assistance between recipient countries and adaptation measures, and fair participation in planning and making decisions on adaptation. We demonstrate how the climate change regime largely omits responsibility but makes a general commitment to assistance. However, the regime has so far failed to operationalise assistance and has made only minor progress towards eliminating obstacles for fair participation. We propose the adoption of four principles for fair adaptation in the climate change regime. These include avoiding dangerous climate change, forward-looking responsibility, putting the most vulnerable first and equal participation of all. We argue that a safe maximum standard of 400–500 ppm of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and a carbon tax of $20–50 per carbon equivalent ton could provide the initial instruments for operationalising the principles.
Article
Laboratory research in toxicology has progressed far beyond reliance on measures of mortality to make use of sophisticated behavioral preparations that can evaluate the consequences of sublethal toxicant exposure. In contrast, field studies have not evolved as rapidly. Approaches developed by experimental psychologists and ethologists provide powerful and complementary methodologies to the study of environmental pollutants and behavior. Observational data collection techniques can easily be used to broaden the number of questions addressed regarding sublethal exposure to toxic agents in both field and laboratory environments. This paper provides a background in such techniques, including construction of ethograms and observational methodologies, and the use of laboratory analogues to naturally occurring activities such as social behavior, predation, and foraging. Combining ethological and experimental approaches in behavior analysis can result in a more comprehensive evaluation of the effects of environmental contaminants on behavior.
Article
Heat and heat waves are projected to increase in severity and frequency with increasing global mean temperatures. Studies in urban areas show an association between increases in mortality and increases in heat, measured by maximum or minimum temperature, heat index, and sometimes, other weather conditions. Health effects associated with exposure to extreme and prolonged heat appear to be related to environmental temperatures above those to which the population is accustomed. Models of weather-mortality relationships indicate that populations in northeastern and midwestern U.S. cities are likely to experience the greatest number of illnesses and deaths in response to changes in summer temperature. Physiologic and behavioral adaptations may reduce morbidity and mortality. Within heat-sensitive regions, urban populations are the most vulnerable to adverse heat-related health outcomes. The elderly, young children, the poor, and people who are bedridden or are on certain medications are at particular risk. Heat-related illnesses and deaths are largely preventable through behavioral adaptations, including the use of air conditioning and increased fluid intake. Overall death rates are higher in winter than in summer, and it is possible that milder winters could reduce deaths in winter months. However, the relationship between winter weather and mortality is difficult to interpret. Other adaptation measures include heat emergency plans, warning systems, and illness management plans. Research is needed to identify critical weather parameters, the associations between heat and nonfatal illnesses, the evaluation of implemented heat response plans, and the effectiveness of urban design in reducing heat retention.
Article
The objective of this paper is to analyse and quantify the effects exerted on summer mortality by extremes of heat, particularly among persons aged 65-74 and 75 years and over, groups in which mortality is higher. The study included the period from 1 January 1986 to 31 December 1997, for all people aged over 65 years resident in Madrid, based on mortality due to all causes except accidents (ICD-9 codes 1-799), and circulatory (390-459) and respiratory (460-487) causes. Meteorological variables analysed were: daily maximum temperature, daily minimum temperature and relative humidity. To control the effect of air pollution on mortality we considered the daily mean values of sulphur dioxide (SO2), total suspended particulate (TSP), nitric oxides (NOx), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and tropospheric ozone (O3). Univariate and multivariate ARIMA models were used. Box-Jenkins pre-whitening was performed. The results yielded by this study indicate a mortality increase up to 28.4% for every degree the temperature rises above 36.5 degrees C, with particular effect in women over the age of 75 years and circulatory-cause mortality. The first heat wave that leads to the greatest effects on mortality, due to the higher number of susceptible people and the duration of the heat wave, show an exponential growth in mortality. Furthermore, low relative humidity enhances the effects of high temperature, linking dryness to air pollutants, ozone in particular. Since a warmer climate is predicted in the future, the incidence of heat wave should increase, and more comprehensive measures, both medical and social, should be adopted to prevent the effects of extreme heat on the population, particularly the elderly.
Article
The effects of heat waves on the population have been described by different authors and a consistent relationship between mortality and temperature has been found, especially in elderly subjects. The present paper studies this effect in Seville, a city in the south of Spain, known for its climate of mild winters and hot summers, when the temperature frequently exceeds 40 degrees C. This study focuses on the summer months (June to September) for the years from 1986 to 1997. The relationships between total daily mortality and different specific causes for persons older than 65 and 75 years, of each gender, were analysed. Maximum daily temperature and relative humidity at 7.00 a.m. were introduced as environmental variables. The possible confounding effect of different atmospheric pollutants, particularly ozone, were considered. The methodology employed was time series analysis using Box-Jenkins models with exogenous variables. On the basis of dispersion diagrams, we defined extremely hot days as those when the maximum daily temperature surpassed 41 degrees C. The ARIMA model clearly shows the relationship between temperature and mortality. Mortality for all causes increased up to 51% above the average in the group over 75 years for each degree Celsius beyond 41 degrees C. The effect is more noticeable for cardiovascular than for respiratory diseases, and more in women than in men. Among the atmospheric pollutants, a relation was found between mortality and concentrations of ozone, especially for men older than 75.
Article
To identify the vulnerabilities of elderly to disasters, and to develop strategies to address these vulnerabilities. A relevant literature search of journal articles, government training materials, news reports, and materials from senior organizations was conducted. The vulnerability of the elderly to disasters is related to their impaired physical mobility, diminished sensory awareness, chronic health conditions, and social and economic limitations that prevent adequate preparation for disasters, and hinder their adaptability during disasters. Frail elderly, those with serious physical, cognitive, economic, and psycho-social problems, are at especially high risk. This segment of the population is growing rapidly. Therefore, it is important that emergency management recognize the frail elderly as a special needs population, and develop targeted strategies that meet their needs. Several management strategies are presented and recommendations for further action are proposed.
Article
To the Editor: As commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health and an important figure in my book, Heat Wave, John Wilhelm has a distinctive view of whether he and the administration for which he works responded adequately to the 1995 disaster, which killed more than 700 people. In his review (Sept. 26 issue),1 Wilhelm claims that the people I interviewed for the two chapters assessing Chicago's social protection programs and emergency responses “were not there.” This is not true. Wilhelm, who was a leader in the city's effort to manage the crisis, was himself a source for the . . .
Article
Populations susceptible to the effects of particulate matter have begun to be characterized, but the independent contributions of specific factors have not been explored. We used a case-crossover study to examine PM10-associated mortality risk during 1988-1991 among 65,180 elderly residents of Cook County, Illinois, who had a history of hospitalization for heart or lung disease. We assessed how the effect was independently modified by specific diagnoses and personal characteristics. We found a 1.14% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.44% to 1.85%) increased risk of death per 10 microg/m3 increase in ambient PM10 concentration. Persons with heart or lung disease-but no specific diagnosis of myocardial infarction, diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or conduction disorders-were at 0.74% (-0.29% to 1.79%) increased risk. Persons with a history of myocardial infarction had a 2.7-fold higher risk (CI = -2.1 to 7.4). Those with diabetes carried a 2.0-fold higher risk (CI = -1.5 to 5.5). Risk appeared to decrease with age among elderly men and increase with age among elderly women, but the estimated 3-way interaction was not precise enough to exclude the null. We found no indication that susceptibility varied by group-level socioeconomic measures. Among a frail population, individuals diagnosed with myocardial infarction or diabetes were at greatest risk of death associated with high concentrations of PM10. These results suggest that their susceptibility may derive from prior vascular damage to the heart.
Article
Studies have reported associations between mortality and air pollution, but questions subsist on the identification of susceptible subgroups in the population. We studied individual characteristics that modify the relationship between particulate air pollution and mortality among elderly. We examined 527 nonaccidental deaths (197 cardiorespiratory deaths) among the 1469 subjects from the Personnes Agees QUID cohort in Bordeaux between 1988 and 1997. Air pollution was measured as black smoke by urban monitoring background stations. We used a case crossover approach and calculated odds ratio by conditional logistic regression models. We observed associations between the third lag day and cardiorespiratory mortality for an increase of 10 microg/m3 of black smoke (odds ratio = 1.30, 95% confidence interval: 1.01-1.68). Our results provide insight into factors possibly conferring susceptibility to the acute effect of urban air pollution.
Vulnerability and Health Effects | American Society on Aging http://www.asaging.org/blog/older-people-and-climate-change-vulnerability-and-health-effects
  • Older People
  • Climate Change
Older People and Climate Change: Vulnerability and Health Effects | American Society on Aging http://www.asaging.org/blog/older-people-and-climate-change-vulnerability-and-health-effects[1/11/2016 10:37:29 AM]
Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging
  • J Stein
Stein, J., et al. 2008. " Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging. " Boston: Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility and Science and Environmental Health Network. www.agehealthy.org.
Vulnerability of the Elderly During Natural Hazard Events
  • R Zimmerman
Zimmerman, R., et al. 2007. " Vulnerability of the Elderly During Natural Hazard Events. " In Proceedings of the Hazards and Disasters Researchers Meeting, pp. 38–40. Boulder, Colo., July 11–12.