By Surbhi Kalia and Dr. Paula Rochon
Recent heatwaves around the world are a reminder of global warming and its negative impact on our health and well-being.
At the same time, Canada is becoming a super-aged society, with 20% of the population being elderly, mostly women.
What is the relationship between these two trends?
Older people, especially women, are disproportionately affected by food insecurity due to extreme weather and climate change.Recent reports from the United Nations and international organizations lancet It highlights the links between climate change, aging populations and gender, yet older women are largely forgotten in critical media and policy discussions.
Research has shown that older adults are more susceptible to heat-induced stress than younger adults because of their reduced ability to sweat, reduced ability to sense dehydration, and use of medications. increase. Older women are more likely to have chronic conditions that may require medication and are more likely to develop drug-related side effects. I have.
But even with new guidance calling for the inclusion of older people in climate change planning, older women continue to be left out of the climate change debate.
Policies in long-term care facilities, where women make up the majority of residents, have been particularly slow to respond to the impacts of climate change. Little research has been done on design considerations for older women in long-term care, but creating spaces that reduce the risk of climate change, such as incorporating green space into the environment, should be a priority.
Climate change will also affect older people who tend to live alone and lack social connections. Older women face loneliness on a larger scale than men. Extreme climate change events such as floods, tornadoes and hurricanes exacerbate feelings of social isolation for those without access to emergency and home health services.
Older women are also more likely than men to face poverty and may lack the financial resources to access services and care during catastrophic weather events caused by climate change.
One-size-fits-all strategies to address climate change cannot meet the unique needs of older women. It’s important to identify gender differences and create solutions tailored to their needs.
We also need data disaggregated by both sex and age, taking into account race, and identifying other relevant factors to measure the true impacts of climate change on specific populations. . Data can inform actions to mitigate the specific impacts of climate change on older people and women.
We can also leverage older women to create comprehensive climate change solutions. Their generational wisdom allows them to identify the early signs of disaster and how to overcome the aftermath of these disasters.
Instead of creating climate change strategies that exclude women, we can involve older women so they can contribute to action.
Dr. Paula Rochon and Surbhi Kalia: Impact of Climate Change on Older Women
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