Climate Change and its Impact on Elderly Population
Climate change is no more a grievous, tormenting and agonizing distant dream, as it was felt in the previous century.
It is the reality of the present millennium, revealing itself in varieties of harrowing events like extreme temperature, extreme flood and drought condition, cyclone, forest fire, lightning and spread of various kinds of vector borne diseases.
Never the less, the global warming induced climate change impact is not only confined to big climatic hazardous events, it has been extending its reach to minute, ingenious and adroit subtle happenings, implying significant impact on the quality of life, like reduced flowering of numerous species of plants, decreased quality of a great deal of fruits and veggies, disappearance of innumerable small insects and bird species and countless ineffable incidents around the world.
In order to keep at arm’s length, the dreadful impact of climate change, one needs to have resources at his/her disposal along with the strength of body and mind to mitigate the risk arising out of these events.
Nonetheless, all the age group of human population possess all these attributes to do away with this pervasive impact of climate change. The children and elderly age group of population lack these essential elements.
The issues of children are well taken care by their parents as they are the future generation, leaving alone the matters of elderly population as it involves no future prospect.
In a sense it can be said that the elderly people, the most vulnerable group of population to the impact of climate change are standing alone in their frail and weak body to fight a war of survival with the global warming factors.
Classification of people as younger or older on the basis of age is a bigoted task, however universally it is the sixty years and above population are treated as senior citizens.
The human body develops certain conditions and inhibition as it reaches the age sixty and looking at those properties of body, people term that group of population as geriatrics.
In this age group human body develop limited mobility, resistance to sudden variation in temperature, compromised immune system, respiratory problems as well as some neurological issues.
These limited functionality of body makes the geriatric community vulnerable to climatic event
Trading on with climatic extreme events needs to have resources, physical strength and mobility, cognitive ability to decode the emerging potential threat factors and converting them to the advantageous point.
These endurance attributes of body to deal with climatic factors are slowly fading as the person grows up after a certain point of time.
These people grow to be physically weak, dependent on their care givers for economical, physical, emotional and mental support that increases their vulnerabilities.
The limited physical capability of mobility of the elderly population makes them vulnerable during climatic phenomenon like cyclone, flash flood, forest fire and other such extreme events.
Reduced tolerance limit to temperature makes this group of population vulnerable to sudden increase/decrease of atmospheric temperature.
Increasing air pollution is proving to be major deterrent for this group of people due to their reduced respiratory functionality.
Older people also develop cognitive disabilities like Alzheimer and Dementia making it difficult to cope with the emerging climatic events.
It is a known fact that the neurological malfunctioning of the brain is found to be creating more hassle in elderly people’s life in normal situation and the kind of chaos in doing daily activity during climate emergencies can be well imagined.
Owing to change in weather condition, the increased spread of vector borne diseases pose threat to these senior citizens due to reduced immunity system.
Climate change now a days is making its presence felt in an aggressive manner and the present decade stands testimony to this fact. The beginning of this decade witnessed unfurling of the spread of pandemic, series of heat/cold waves, devastating forest fires, increasing incidences of lightning, increase in frequency of formation of low pressures and cyclones and many more such climatic events around the world. This increases the risk of the elderly population and also rise in the morbidity.
It is high time that climate change policy provisioning needs to take care of the priorities of the elderly population across the globe.
In policy formulation, it is an unspoken behavior to keep at bay the elderly population due to their reduced cognitive skills and physical functioning.
However, in case of climate change policy formulation this group should be included in creating a happy and sustainable society, as their peculiar physical conditional aspect can only be represented by them.
The main frame policy formulation should also include the voice of senior citizen as the world is going to receive more older population than the younger ones in near future.
The present generation’s elderly population has the advantage of age and experience.
As a mark of gratitude for their contribution to the society and family, they should be given appropriate place in the decision-making process as they have the pearls of wisdoms for humanity; which they have gathered over the ages.
In creating a healthier, happier and sustainable society in the event of climate change; the wisdom and experience of elderly population should be included with the provisioning of right infrastructure and environment to lead a dignified life.
This needs to be guided by the principle of respect, love and care, which will surely help us to build a “Caring Society”.