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Climate Change Effects on the Older Adult

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are witnessing the harmful effects that climate change is having on our patients – from exacerbated lung conditions due to poor air quality due to storms and wildfires, increases in mosquito and tick-borne illnesses related to hotter and wetter weather, extreme heatwaves, and droughts causing illness, exacerbations of chronic diseases, displacement, deaths, and psychological trauma.

NPs need to understand and be ready for the effects of climate change, especially the effects of extreme heat on patients at substantial risk for heat-related illness: the old and very old.

After attending this presentation, NPs will be able to:
• Summarize critical steps in the evaluation of patients affected by hot temperatures related to climate change.
• Formulate a plan for management of a hyperthermic older adult.
• Critically appraise the role of nurse practitioners in evaluation and treatment of patients suffering from ecological grief related to climate change disasters.
• Describe needed changes in practice, teaching, and research that will encompass climate changes that affect our older and vulnerable patient population.

This presentation will discuss:
• Climate-related events and effects on health of the older adult and briefly describe the effect of urban heat islands and how NPs can advocate for mitigation efforts to include green islands for the elderly
• Respiratory effects of climate change: increased wet seasons, exacerbation of asthma and allergies due to longer growing seasons, and increase in pollen
• Cardiovascular and renal effects of hotter climates: pathophysiology of climate change on the CV on renal system
• Psychological effects of climate change disasters, fires, floods, hurricanes, and the incidence of ecological grief on the elderly displace by disasters
• Why climate change needs to be included into nursing curricula and research in order to mitigate the harmful effects on the planet and our patients
• Why NPs need to become activists for climate change mitigation in their communities, local, state, and national arenas in order to advocate for the health of their patients of all ages


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