Older Adults and Enviornmental Health

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The American Nurses Association (ANA) was recently notified of many new materials developed by the U.S. EPA Aging Initiative. This extensive array of materials deals with environmental issues and how they affect older adults’ health. Per the EPA, by 2030 seventy million Americans will be 65 years of age or older, which is one in five Americans. Fact sheets are now available for older adults and those that care for them. These fact sheets focus on how to protect this population’s health and reduce their exposure from environmental hazards.

The following is a list of the fact sheets along with a short description of what each one contains. They are available in 15 different languages and larger print for the visually-impaired.

  • “Age Healthier, Breathe Easier" This sheet advises what to do to control and reduce exposure to environmental hazards that affect older adults’ breathing ability.

  • “Diabetes and Environmental Hazards” This sheet advises what to do control and reduce exposure to environmental hazards (such as air pollution and extreme heat) that can negatively impact the health of older adults that have diabetes.

  • “Environmental Hazards Weigh Heavy on the Heart” This sheet advises what to do control and reduce exposure to environmental hazards (such as air pollution, arsenic, lead, and extreme heat) that affect older adults’ cardiac functioning.

  • “It’s Too Darn Hot: Planning for Excessive Heat Events” Older adults are more vulnerable to excess heat events. This sheet explains how extreme heat affects the body and what adverse health symptoms to look for. Tips to reduce exposure to excessive heat are also given.

  • “Safe Steps to Rid Your Home and Garden Of Pests” This sheet explains why older adults can be more susceptible to pesticide chemicals health-wise. It lists safety precautions to use at home.

  • “Water Works” This sheet lists water-related hazards and contaminants and how to avoid them.

  • “Women and Environmental Health” This sheet explains how women over 50 can be negatively impacted by a polluted environment. Examples of specific types of pollution are given along with the possible side effects and how to avoid these hazards.

    Look for the above at http://epa.gov/aging/resources/factsheets/index.htm#fs.

The EPA’s Aging Initiative is receiving applications for their Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging Awards. These reward excellent community planning and strategies that encourage active aging. Environmental and health benefits of each project submitted are also evaluated. The deadline to enter is September 12, 2008. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/aging/bhc/awards.

The 2008 Older Americans, Key Indicators of Well-Being chart book is available on-line at www.agingstats.gov. This book summarizes American older adults’ health and well-being, including information on air and food quality.

Finally, the EPA has a website that contains news, grant opportunities and information on the environment and aging, as well as a subscription list serve. For more information, see: www.epa.gov/aging.

Please take the time to review this important material. This information affects all of us in some way through ourselves, our families and/or our patients. Thank you for your interest in health and the environment.