The majority were older adults living alone without adequate housing, ventilation or protection. Like the COVID-19 pandemic, severe and deadly weather conditions exposed yet another layer of inequity that needs to be addressed.
Without warning and with little time for preparation, older adults without access to the internet or electronic devices, community or family support were left to overcome wide-ranging obstacles on their own.
Solutions need to account for everyone and establish ways to reduce mobility, language and technological barriers. Increased relevant outreach and transportation to nearby cooling centres could be one way municipalities address these barriers and increase accessibility to necessary resources during a heat wave.
As researchers working for the Aging in the Right Place Partnership project — which explores housing related practices that support older adults experiencing homelessness — we hope to capture the lived experiences of those facing housing insecurities, as well as advocate and make essential changes in the way research, policy and programs related to housing issues are developed and implemented.
Climate change will continue to impact our communities and serve as a danger to older adults who are experiencing housing insecurities. By connecting and amplifying their voices, we can inform research and policy innovation that focuses on accessible emergency preparedness and safety measures.
Juanita Mora and Emily Lam, undergraduate research assistants, co-authored this article.