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Fast & Easy Info

  • Environmental hazards can pose a significant risk to older adults, especially those with lung disease and/or asthma.
  • More than 2.5 million Americans age 65 and older have asthma. The highest mortality rate for asthma in the U.S. occurs among senior citizens.
  • Older adults spend more than 80% of their time indoors. It's important to eliminate sources within the home that may emit harmful particles, gases, fumes and anything else that can trigger respiratory attacks.
  • Seniors are more prone to heat stress than younger people. They may have chronic medical conditions that make it difficult to tolerate heat. Summer heat waves can be particularly serious for older people, especially if they're taking prescription medicines that inhibit perspiration.
  • Most skin cancers appear after age 50. According to current estimates, 40 to 50 percent of Americans age 65 or older will have skin cancer at least once.
  • Millions of senior citizens help protect the environment by volunteering their time with local and national non-profit organizations.

Dollars & Sense Options

  • Check the Air Quality Index (AQI) daily. On bad air days (Code Orange, Red, Purple or Maroon), limit or reschedule outdoor activity.
  • If you smoke, stop. Avoid tobacco smoke. Request that family members, friends or caregivers smoke outside.
  • Avoid using wood burning fireplaces, whose smoke can irritate seniors with weakened pulmonary systems. Switch to a vented gas fireplace. If you must use a wood burning stove, make sure it is EPA-emission certified. (Stoves built after 1990 generally are.). Avoid chemically treated wood. Never burn household waste. Have your wood stove, fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned annually. Use an electric starter instead of charcoal lighter fluid if you barbeque outside.
  • On high pollen days, stay inside as much as possible. Use air conditioners to help filter air coming into the home. Remove indoor plants if they could be creating pollen or mold.
  • Cockroach droppings contain a protein that is a primary trigger for asthma. Cockroaches thrive on food, water and trash. Keep food in closed containers. Avoid leaving food or garbage out, especially at night. Kill cockroaches with a mixture of boric acid and sugar.
  • Many older adults are allergic to pet dander, skin flakes, saliva and urine. Keep pets out of the bedroom or other sleeping areas. Clean and brush pets outside of your home.
  • Appliances can pollute indoor air, especially if they are not maintained properly. Have your furnace, heating and air conditioning units professionally inspected and cleaned annually. Repair any leaks. Vent all furnaces and fuel burning heaters to the outdoors. Change filters regularly. Avoid ozone generators as air purifiers in occupied spaces.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of cool water.
  • Avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol. Alcohol, in particular, increases dehydration.
  • Have access to an electric fan whenever possible, or get to an air-conditioned location.
  • Use insect repellents, or wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk.
  • Clean out old tires, buckets and clogged rain gutters so they don't become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If you need help, contact a local Boy Scout troop or the Area Agency for Aging. Look in the White Pages of your phone book under government services.
  • Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
  • Get checked for skin cancer regularly.
  • Avoid the midday sun (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
  • Wear protective clothing, such as sun hats and long sleeves, to block out the sun's harmful rays.
  • Use lotions that contain sunscreens (SPF 15 or higher).

Get Involved :

The Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement (EASI) is a national nonprofit coalition of environmental, aging and volunteer organizations established in 1991. A visionary agreement between the US Environmental Protection Agency and the American Association of Retired Persons, EASI's mission is to increase opportunities for older adults to play an active, visible role in protecting and improving the environment in their communities. EASI's national partners include over 300 national, state and local public and private organizations. Groups like the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Corporation for National and Community Service, US Department of the Interior, National Park Service, North American Coalition on Religion and Ecology, National Wildlife Federation, US Environmental Protection Agency, and National Association of Physicians for the Environment all participate.

Through its national network of 12,000 local organizations, EASI selects local hosts to recruit, train and recognize senior volunteers who carry out a wide range of environmental activities. EASI publishes an electronic newsletter, EASI Does It! for 7,000 organizations around the world.

For other volunteer opportunities, look at some of these organizations .

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