Older people value outdoor spaces

Stockholm from the water showing classic Scandinavian heritage buildings.What makes a city or community age-friendly? The World Health Organization has researched this and produced a comprehensive guide. But sometimes it pays to drill down to the detail at a more local level. Older adults’ perceptions of public spaces could be different to younger people. A research paper from Stockholm looked at green spaces, transport infrastructure and urban development and growth. The methods included visual methods and focus groups. The title of the paper is Promoting ‘Age-Friendly’ Cities: Assessing Elderly Perceptions of Public Spaces.  

The report concludes that respondents gave a high degree of importance to green spaces, features that promote continuity and connection to local histories. Spaces that encourage social interaction were also important. Loss of identity or character of buildings, as well as being inaccessible and poorly lit, added to feelings of discomfort.

Editor’s comment: The speed of, and need for, urban growth must include population ageing in its plans. Dismissing the feelings of older people as being “out of touch” or “not liking change” can have unintended consequences.

Picture by Maria Michelle.