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Assessing the Vulnerability of Older Americans to Climate Change
Assessing the Vulnerability of Older Americans to Climate Change. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.
This project is comprised of a series of activities – listening sessions, literature reviews, and an expert elicitation research agenda-setting workshop – designed to examine and characterize the vulnerability of older adults to climate change and opportunities for adaptation. Background. Within the United States climate change is expected to exert a range of impacts on the health and welfare of vulnerable populations, especially among older adults. From a policy perspective, it is important to recognize and evaluate vulnerable populations that may experience a range of effects across multiple risk factors related to climate and other related factors. By 2050, the 65 and older age group will constitute approximately 21 percent of the total population. This projected increase in the older adult population is key to climate impact estimates. Furthermore, the vulnerability of older adults interacts with co-occurring factors to complicate their risk. Higher incidence of poverty, social isolation, limited mobility, frail health and chronic illnesses and inadequate or no health insurance are common among older adults and influence the extent of their vulnerability to climate change. Older adults are at greater risk for adverse health effects from increased heating and cooling, susceptibility to water- and food-borne disease, stresses on food and water supplies, and their reduced ability to mobilize or evacuate in a timely way. Threats to older adults from climate change include heat waves, air pollution, extreme weather events (e.g., torrential rain and tropical storms), flooding, and sea level rise. In addition to climate factors determining health outcomes, older adults are also affected by non-climate factors, such as economic status, technology, infrastructure and the built environment, human and social capital, political and social institutions, land-use change, and demographic trends.
The purpose of this project is to examine and characterize the vulnerability of older adults in the United States to climate change and to recognize opportunities for adaptation.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (PUBLISHED REPORT/REPORT)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE STAFF