The HeatSafe Preliminary Study: Perceptions of Heat-Wave Events in Australian Residents Aged 75+

By Leigh Wilson, Deborah Black and Craig Veitch.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Heat-waves are increasing globally, as a result of climate change. One of the groups most vulnerable to heat-waves is the elderly, particularly those aged over 75. Evidence suggests the elderly have a number of risk factors which increase their likelihood of heat-related illness or death. These studies have been conducted in countries where heat-waves are a rare event.

Australia has a warm climate, and regularly experiences summer heat-waves. To date, no data have been collected on the perception of heat-wave risk in elderly Australians, or the strategies they use to keep cool in the heat.

This study enrolled 31 Australians aged over 75, and investigated their perceptions of hot weather, strategies and barriers to keeping cool and risk factors associated with heat-related illness.

Key findings of this study were: the negative perception of heat risk in elderly Australians and how this has the potential to increase likelihood of heat-related hospitalisation, and the reduced use of cooling devices based on socio-economic status and increasing power costs.

The findings of this study are applicable to all communities where elderly people are at risk of heat-related illness and death, and provide evidence on which to base future health promotion initiatives.

Keywords: Aging, Climate Change, Heat-Waves, Preventive Health, Perception of Heat, Health Promotion Strategies

Aging and Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.25-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 611.289KB).

Dr. Leigh Wilson

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aging, Work and Health Research Group, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Prof. Deborah Black

Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Prof. Craig Veitch

Chair of Population Health and Global Systems, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia