Sweden’s heat wave endangers elderly

Sweden's heat wave endangers elderly
Sweden’s current heat wave isn’t all sunshine as death rates for the elderly rise steadily with thermometer increases.

The death rate for people ages 65 and older rises by one and half percent for each single rise in centigrade temperatures. According to a study from Umeå University in northern Sweden, when temperatures rise over 22 centigrade during a 24 hour period, deaths amongst the over 64s rise significantly.

Researchers are now investigating how to develop a strategy to cope with heat waves in Sweden.

Bertil Forsberg, a professor at Umeå university pointed out to TT news services that other countries have a warning system.

“Last week in Spain they were on red alert. That is when they make certain procedures obligatory within health and nursing care. There are similar measures in France, England and Germany.”

Forsberg believes that the Swedish Board of Health and Welfare should have a warning scale with action plans for health clinics and at home nursing facilities, that outline how they should handle rising temperatures for their patients.

“When it is really warm, one should have more staff for home nursing services to make more visits and ensure that the elderly are drinking enough or sleeping in another room to keep cool. Instead, there is usually fewer staff on duty during the summer.”

According to Forsberg, the problem is here to stay as average temperatures rise as a consequence of climate change.