Elderly at Risk with Summer Temperatures
Results from a recent health study, conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, found that even a 1 degree Celsius increase, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, in temperature during the summer can increase death rates for elderly people who have a chronic health condition. The study included health data from 1985-2006 for 3.7 million senior citizens, aged 65+, who possessed some form of chronic illness. The seniors lived in 135 different cities across the U.S.
Research found that high day to day variability in summer temperatures shortens life expectancy. And, this temperature differential can be harmful for susceptible, at risk, people.
The study shows that people generally adapt to temperatures in their city, even in places with higher temperatures, like Miami. But that cities that have a “larger temperature swing” that are a risk to seniors.
Heat stress increases the death risk for seniors suffering from these conditions:
— Chronic Lung Disease: Death risk increased by 3.7%
— Diabetes: Death risk increased by 4%
— Heart Attack Sufferers: Death risk increased by 3.8%
— Heart Failure Sufferers: Death risk increased by 2.8%
Researchers also found that mortality rates for those over age 65 increases in impoverished areas and decreases 1-2% in cities that have more green areas.
An aging baby boomer population — the “sandwich generation” – and the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes — means that this public health issue will likely become a larger concern in the future as summer temperatures continue to rise.
John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164