Elderly Thermal Comfort in Tropical Climates: Identifying the Knowledge Gap

By Sumavalee Chindapol, John Blair, Paul Osmond and Deo Prasad.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 12, 2016 Free Download

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.

Keywords: Elderly, Heat-related Deaths, Thermal Comfort, Tropical Climate

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 6, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.33-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 12, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 695.553KB)).

Sumavalee Chindapol

Ph.D Student, Sustainable Development, Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

John Blair

Casual lecturer, Sustainable Development, Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Paul Osmond

Dr., Senior lecturer, Director of Discipline - Built Environment (Sustainable Development), Senior Lecturer / PG Teaching Staff, Sustainable Development, Smart Cities, Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Dr. Deo Prasad

Professor, Program Director - Sustainable Development - Architectural Studies, PG Teaching Staff, Architecture, Property and Development, Sustainable Development, Infrastructure in the Built Environment, Smart Cities, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia