Social connection as a public health adaptation to extreme heat events

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Amani Kafeety
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Climate change is an increasingly important public health issue, reflected in morbidity and mortality outcomes during extreme heat events. At the same time, the harms of social isolation with respect to a wide range of health outcomes are becoming better understood. Given that older adults are at higher risk during hot weather and at higher risk of social isolation, they are among those at highest risk for adverse impacts of extreme heat events. While specific strategies to reduce heat exposure have been described in the literature and promoted in public health practice, these may not be readily available to socially isolated older adults. As such, it is crucial to identify key approaches to address risk due to social isolation in the aging population, and to acknowledge their limitations and barriers. Interventions rooted in social connection, a concept widely applied in interventions for public health and social well-being, should be applied as a tool for adaptation to extreme heat events.

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