Climate Change and the Health of Older People in Southeast Asia

Abstract

This chapter is essentially speculative, considering possible health-related consequences for older persons of climate change events should these occur. The Asia-Pacific region and its Southeast Asian subregion has almost a third of the world’s older persons. The heterogeneity of older cohorts should be recognised and not stereotyped as uniformly vulnerable. Nevertheless, older persons will generally be more vulnerable than other age groups to events such as extreme heat and other climate stressors. Risks may be raised for ischaemic heart disease, stroke, COPD, acute lower respiratory disease and lung cancer, affecting older groups disproportionately. Higher temperatures are also associated with sudden-onset weather emergency events such as typhoons and associated heavy rainfall, flooding and damage to property and life. Many parts of the region are susceptible to such events, along with neighbouring countries in East and South Asia. Many types of infectious diseases will also be affected by temperature rises. Expansion is likely of areas at risk from malaria, dengue and other parasitic or infectious conditions. For example, small temperature increases could raise both latitude and altitude at which mosquitoes could breed and affect humans. Other risks include increasing incidence of food poisoning and threats to food security as extreme climate events and disease can disrupt food production. Finally, climate change can impact psychological and mental health. Older persons will be relatively at greater risk, especially those with dementias who may be less able to cope with adverse conditions. The severity of climate change impacts will be mediated by political and socio-economic factors and adaptive strategies, so forward planning by governments is essential.

Keywords

Climate change Health Older persons Extreme events Southeast Asia 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and PlanningMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and Social PolicyLingnan UniversityTuen MunHong Kong

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