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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Improved urban planning needed to keep older people on the move
Article Type: News and events From: Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Volume 14, Issue 3.
With walking recognised as important to the health and wellbeing of older people, a Queensland University of Technology study of inner Brisbane has found that improved urban planning would result in more seniors getting out and about.
Dr Desley Vine found that cyclists, poorly maintained footpaths, dangerous pedestrian crossings, a lack of shade and public seating and public transport problems were key obstacles to older people walking around their neighbourhoods. Participants in the study also considered the availability of green space to be important as well as the amount of activities they would want to engage in.
Involving 12 older residents from six inner-city Brisbane suburbs, participants in the study kept daily travel diaries, were tracked using GPS and GIS technology and participated in in-depth interviews over the seven-day research period.
Dr Vine said the study found that, when deciding to either walk or drive, older people considered the risks to their physical safety; dangerous crossings and shared overcrowded pedestrian/cyclist pathways were among the factors preventing them from venturing out on foot.
"It's recognised worldwide that the age-friendliness of a city is paramount to healthy and active ageing", says Dr Vine, "Because people's physical health and mobility are generally affected by the ageing process, a surrounding environment that is conducive to walking is important for the general wellbeing and independence of older people. Other studies have shown that older people who are unable to move freely around their local environment have a lower quality of life and can become marginalised as a result, so poor planning can lead to their becoming socially isolated".
Better planning would enable older people to walk more and drive less, and that better maintenance of pavements, intersections and pedestrian crossings would encourage older people to get about on foot: HTTP://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14649357.2012.696675