The experience of a heat wave and preparations for a hot future - A case study of climate change adaptation and health risks faced by the elderly population of Trelleborg
Sammanfattning: As global temperatures rise, adverse health effects due to heat exposure are an increasingly pressing issue, particularly threatening to the health of elderly people. Mitigating these threats requires a dynamic climate adaptation system embedding a variety of measures. Ideally, such a system incorporates the coping strategies and experiences of the vulnerable themselves in a well-developed strategical work of municipalities. This study was performed in Trelleborg in the aftermath of the extraordinarily warm summer of 2018. The aim was to investigate the specific risk context of elderly and heat, in terms of how the municipality and its elderly population experience and manage such risks, both separately and in collaboration. Three focus group sessions with elderly individuals were conducted, as well as nine interviews with municipality officials. These were analysed alongside a number of official documents on the topic. The findings showed that the elderly’s primary concerns with regards to the heat is with regards to the threats to society at large, or to other elderly individuals, rather than to their own health, thus implying a need for awareness-raising measures. Nonetheless, the elderly’s lives were fundamentally altered during the summer of 2018. Coping strategies included alterations of circadian rhythm, food and drink intake, and movements, and were thus mostly behavioural. These coping strategies appear as unreflected rather than deliberate. The municipality has implemented response mechanisms, particularly aimed at the citizens within the elderly care system. Moreover, it has focused on the spreading of information on risks and possible counter-measures at the individual level. However, it fails to incorporate management of heat in the urban development. This thesis provides a discussion that extends into potential ways of enhancing the adaptational work of the municipality. Suggested improvements include implementation of ecosystem-based adaptation, more focus on the suitable channels of information, as well as achieving what I refer to as heat-escape.
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