Scientists warn: Extreme weather changes negatively affect a group of people
New research by British scientists has shown that there is an urgent need for action in urban environments aimed at reducing the negative impact of extreme weather conditions on the health and well-being of older people, writes The Independent.
The research it was carried out by scientists from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh in collaboration with experts from the Stockholm Institute for the Environment at York University.
They believe that climate change and an increase in extreme weather events pose a "huge challenge" to the health and well-being of older people and warn that this is an urgent health problem.
In a study titled Healthy Aging in a Changing Climate, British researchers point to the need for "effective action" to help create inclusive, climate-resilient and age-friendly cities and communities.
They also proposed concrete measures, such as building residential buildings resistant to extreme climate conditions and designing "climate-resistant outdoor spaces", such as shaded bus stops, tree-lined streets and more urban leisure spaces.
Among other ideas is the construction of a kind of "shelter dome" where the people of the third age could shelter from extreme weather conditions in the "hottest climate areas" and at the same time allow them to socialize.
The leader of the research, Professor Ryan Woolrich, recalled that "climate change has a huge impact on the elderly population, who are often most at risk from extreme weather conditions. ".
"I believe we urgently need to think creatively about how to act to help third-age people before, during and after extreme weather events." "If we don't act today, we risk further negative consequences for older people, and I mean their increased mortality," Woolrich said.
The authors of the study noted that climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of extreme weather events.
From 2022 to 2023, they gathered the views of more than 140 older people, policy makers and doctors from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They also investigated what factors contribute to older people's resilience to climate change, including heat waves, floods and storms.
The study provides numerous recommendations for action, including empowering older people for climate action, and recommends that climate change be recognized as an immediate public health problem and describes how climate change can directly and indirectly affect health and well-being. to the elderly.
Higher temperatures caused by heat waves may result in increased mortality. At the same time, the reduced ability to regulate body temperature in people of the third age should be taken into account.
Damage from severe storms and traffic disruptions due to extreme weather can reduce older adults' mobility, social interaction, and access to essential services. All this has a negative impact on the well-being of the elderly.
"It is crucial to understand that more frequent and more severe extreme weather events will harm the health and well-being of older people, especially those in more vulnerable areas or those who lack adequate financial resources and support systems to help them cope or mitigate such extreme weather conditions," adds Woolrich.
Research has shown that a holistic approach must be taken if we are to meet the needs of an aging population in a changing climate and protect their quality of life.