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Soc Sci Med. 2016 Nov;169:33-41. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.08.044. Epub 2016 Sep 13.

"Benches become like porches": Built and social environment influences on older adults' experiences of mobility and well-being.

Author information

1
Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, 2635 Laurel Street, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada. Electronic address: Callista.ottoni@hiphealth.ca.
2
Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, 2635 Laurel Street, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada; Department of Family Practice, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, 317-2194 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada.
3
Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, 2635 Laurel Street, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada; Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Blusson Hall Rm 11522, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada.
4
Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, 2635 Laurel Street, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada.

Abstract

Neighbourhood environments significantly influence health and well-being, especially as people age. Our study uniquely highlights how one microscale feature (benches) influence older adults experiences of mobility and well-being, from their perspective. We also explore how these experiences affect and are affected by the social environment of the neighbourhoods where older adults live. We conducted one-on-one seated and walk-along interviews with individuals aged 60+ that live in three adjacent neighbourhoods in Vancouver, Canada. We collected data at two time points (n = 28, 2012; n = 22, 2014). We found that benches positively contributed to older adults' mobility experiences by: (i) enhancing their use and enjoyment of green and blue spaces, (ii) serving as a mobility aid, and (iii) contributing to social cohesion and social capital. To address the increased needs of an aging demographic, urban planners might consider the quality and presence of microfeatures as part of an immediate and inexpensive strategy to create supportive neighbourhoods for people of all ages and abilities.

KEYWORDS:

Aging; Benches; Built environment; Microfeatures; Mobility; Physical activity; Seniors; Social health

PMID:
27669123
DOI:
10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.08.044
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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