What kind of places do older people avoid during heat waves?

This spring, about ten 65+ year olds participated in a study circle at the Senior University in Jönköping. The aim is to provide the research project HEAT with older people's perceptions of places they go to or avoid in warmer climates.

The School of Health and Welfare (HHJ) at Jönköping University (JU) is taking part in the interdisciplinary research project HEAT, which is carried out together with the universities of Gothenburg, Umeå, and Lund. Susanne Gustafsson is Associate Professor in Occupational Therapy and responsible for the research project at HHJ. She is exploring the behavior and attitudes of older people in connection with warm weather and heat waves especially when it comes to activities in urban environments.

Watch what participants in the study circle and Johanna Johansson have to say about the partial study in the following film.

Photography and filming in data collection

Participating in the study circle is free and, when applying to take part, all participants have shown an interest in social issues, urban planning as well as a desire to learn more about how to take pictures, film and edit.

The participants have ventured out into Jönköping to collect material about the places they prefer to be in or like to avoid when temperatures are high. They have taken pictures and films with iPads which are then handed over to Susanne Gustafsson and Johanna Johansson (PhD student at HHJ) and Christian Falk, who is a coordinator for the elderly in Gothenburg. This material is then analyzed.

The participants are also given homework between the various study circle meetings, with the aim of helping them learn more about photography, filming and editing on their own, while also giving their opinions regarding urban planning for a warmer climate in Jönköping.

En äldre man fotar stadsmiljö med en Ipad

Influencing decision-makers

The participants will also take part in interviews after the study circle, to talk about their experiences and thoughts about their participation. According to Susanne Gustafsson, the collected data will provide an opportunity to start up a dialogue with decision makers.

“The goal of this study circle is to support older people to express their thoughts and share their experiences, which hopefully can ultimately affect the city and their surroundings,” says Susanne Gustafsson.

A similar study circle is taking place in Gothenburg in parallel fashion. After the studies have been completed, HEAT researchers plan to invite researchers, civil servants, politicians and older people to an open conference in the autumn of 2024. The hope is to start a discussion with decision makers and organizations.

About the research project HEAT


The research project HEAT is an interdisciplinary project that aims to investigate various aspects of how heat waves and hot weather, today and in the future, affect older people in Sweden. The project includes researchers from Jönköping University as well as from Gothenburg University, Lund University and Umeå University.

Read more about HEAT here. External link, opens in new window.