Wildfires and older adults: a scoping review of impacts, risks, and interventions
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Colleen Cummings Melton; Carson M. De Fries; Rebecca M. Smith; Lisa Reyes Mason
Publication Year: 2023

Cataloging Information

  • adaptation
  • climate change
  • disaster recovery
  • evacuation
  • Indigenous elders
  • literature review
  • mitigation
  • older adults
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: October 23, 2023
FRAMES Record Number: 68647


Climate change is leading to worsening disasters that disproportionately impact older adults. While research has begun to measure disparities, there is a gap in examining wildfire-specific disasters. To address this gap, this scoping review analyzed literature to explore the nexus of wildfires and older adults. We searched peer-reviewed literature using the following inclusion criteria: (1) published in a peer-reviewed journal; (2) available in English; (3) examines at least one topic related to wildfires; and (4) examines how criterion three relates to older adults in at least one way. Authors screened 261 titles and abstracts and 138 were reviewed in full, with 75 articles meeting inclusion criteria. Findings heavily focused on health impacts of wildfires on older adults, particularly of smoke exposure and air quality. While many articles mentioned a need for community-engaged responses that incorporate the needs of older adults, few addressed firsthand experiences of older adults. Other common topics included problems with evacuation, general health impacts, and Indigenous elders’ fire knowledge. Further research is needed at the nexus of wildfires and older adults to highlight both vulnerabilities and needs as well as the unique experience and knowledge of older adults to inform wildfire response strategies and tactics.

Online Link(s):
Melton, Colleen Cummings; De Fries, Carson M.; Smith, Rebecca M.; Mason, Lisa Reyes. 2023. Wildfires and older adults: a scoping review of impacts, risks, and interventions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 20(13):6252.