Seniors at Risk: Heat and Seniors
- Heat is the top weather killer, surpassing hurricanes and tornadoes.
- An estimated 12,000 Americans die of heat-related causes annually, according to research by scientists at Duke University. That’s roughly on par with annual deaths from gun homicides.
- More than 80 percent of heat’s victims are over 60, researchers have found. The baby boomer generation (born between 1946-1964) will be among those immediately hardest hit by climate change, as their increasing vulnerability to extreme heat coincides with rising temperatures.
- Physicians and emergency planners say seniors’ best defense against heat is social connection, with family and neighbors checking on elders who are alone in sweltering weather. Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic impedes those in-person connections, while restricting capacity in traditional cooling centers and public areas.