Designing for a healthier old age

Designing for a healthier old age

A report published by Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors (I’DGO) has highlighted the need for safe and accessible outdoor environments for the elderly population. If people over the age of 65 do not find it easy or enjoyable to get outdoors, their health, social opportunities and quality of life can be severely affected.

Led by Professor Catharine Ward Thompson of the University of Edinburgh, I’DGO was established in 2003 to discover what role outdoor planning and design has to play in helping the elderly maintain a good quality of life.

Surveying 4,350 older people across Britain, I’DGO found that good access to local shops, services and green spaces doubles an older person’s chances of achieving recommended levels of healthy walking, improves their range of activities and increases their life satisfaction. The pedestrian experience is vitally important to older people, who can often be restricted by the poor design, provision, installation or upkeep of neighbourhood features.

It is suggested the situation could be approved through stricter adherence to guidelines relating to tactile paving and road crossings, as well as by enforcing regulations on street clutter and pavement parking.

Speaking about the findings, UK Equality and Human Rights Commissioner Baroness Sally Greengross said: “I am delighted that I’DGO is adding so significantly to the evidence base on the benefits of getting outdoors, and the importance of ageing-in-place, at a time of heightened public interest in standards of living and care in older age. For those involved in the planning, design and maintenance of the public realm, as with professionals and policy makers in health and social care, the work is an important touchstone which can bring real benefits to Britain’s growing number of people aged 65 or over.” 

You can download the findings at I’DGO’s website.


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