Climate change for seniors, what does that mean?
The environment in which a senior lives will have a critical impact on their finances, health, and lifestyle. This is a dynamic that is often taken for granted. Our world keeps seeing the impacts of climate change hasten. Thus, it will become one of the most important factors to consider for the well-being of seniors.
The New England Journal of Medicine was one of 200 medical journals that came together in 2022. They declare that climate change is now one of the biggest health risks to people across the world. Seniors are singled out as among the most vulnerable of all. For example, they cite that heat-related deaths for people over the age of 65 have increased by more than 50% over the last two decades. As seniors age, they become particularly susceptible to conditions that can impact their respiratory systems, body temperature, or ability to sustain trauma. The rise of heat waves, wildfires, drought, hurricanes, and flooding are all recipes for disaster in the lives of seniors not well suited to cope with these conditions.
There are also serious financial consequences for seniors suddenly forced to deal with destroyed homes and property. Conversely, the aftereffects brought upon their physical, mental, and emotional health. Seniors who have retired and settled into areas now under siege by these conditions are facing existential threats to their finances and their lives. Most seniors living in areas where the acceleration of climate change has become painfully evident won’t have the time or capability to recover or survive these changing conditions or the onslaught of a sudden disaster.
When it comes to finances those living in flood and fire zones, must prepare for rising costs of insurance—if they will even be able to find coverage. The loss of property or employment from the impact of a catastrophic event can disrupt a person’s income and savings for the future. For seniors, this can be particularly problematic because they have less time and income to work with to recover.
People must prepare themselves for the negative impact that climate change will have on health and lifestyle
It is also critical to factor in the impacts on health from heatwaves, wildfires, air quality, and catastrophic weather events such as hurricanes and floods. Seniors often live more isolated and can find it difficult to prepare for or avoid being impacted by these conditions. It’s critical that loved ones know where they are and how they are doing during these times. Seniors need to know where to go and how to get to a safe shelter in times of emergency. Anyone looking at retirement should take into account these realities when they are considering where they might live during retirement and possibly pick more stable environments. Nonetheless, areas such as Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California continue to be the hottest real estate markets and most desired retirement destinations. The question is—how long will that continue to make sense?
Where should a senior plan to live for their retirement over the next two or three decades?
Whether it’s living in the U.S. or internationally, climate change has to be among the top considerations for where to reside in retirement as a senior. There are real financial and safety consequences to come for people living in oceanfront properties or flood zones that will be impacted by rising sea levels and more intense hurricanes. Seniors must consider the health and financial realities of living in regions that will continue to experience heat waves, drought, and wildfires. Whatever someone’s beliefs are about the causes of climate change doesn’t really matter when it comes to people’s lives. The world has reached a “Code Red” moment as the climate has undeniably changed and will continue to change at an accelerating pace. As a result, seniors will be among the most vulnerable and impacted people to the financial, health, and lifestyle consequences.
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