LTSS Center at UMass-Boston Report Focuses on Impact of Climate Change on Older Adults

Feb 23, 2022

A new research report from the LTSS Center @UMass-Boston outlines how community stakeholders can help older adults better prepare for and recover from climate change-related emergencies.Specifically, the report outlines the role that frontline professionals can play in supporting older adults before and after climate change-related emergencies. These case managers, social workers, nurses, primary care physicians, and gerontologists regularly assess the social isolation, frailty, sensory impairment, mobility, and dementia status of their older clients.

LTSS Center researchers end their report by calling for policymakers, providers, and the public health system to take three immediate actions:

  1. Policymakers at all levels of government must recognize the special challenges facing older adults during climate emergencies, and must target specific resources to planning, intervention, follow-up, and support for older adults living in various settings.
  2. Providers of health and long-term services and supports (LTSS) need education about how climate change uniquely affects their older patients, residents, and clients and how they can support these older adults through prevention, early intervention, and longer-term oversight.
  3. The public health system, which has not focused adequate attention on addressing the needs of older adults, must build its knowledge, skills, and capacity to address the risks and consequences of climate change.

The report also calls for more study to better understand the health impacts of climate change among older adults and help them plan for and respond to the climate-related events. It recommends additional research to help policymakers, public health officials, providers, and other community stakeholders address the special needs of specific subgroups of the older population, including community-dwelling older adults who have LTSS needs, and older adults who belong to different racial and ethnic groups. These older adults may experience different risks related to climate change and may be impacted differently by climate change-related events.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reported on how many older adults are engaging in climate activism to show how  all generations can be part of the solution as well.