Active, Healthy Lifestyles in Aging Population: Design the Ideal Environment

Finding a living community for an aging loved one can be stressful. Ultimately, family members want to find a residence that will provide a safe and clean environment where they can continue to live happy and healthy lives. But when we say “healthy”, what do we mean exactly? When one thinks of their health, it is often viewed through the lens of physical, mental, and social terms. However, an overlooked but vital piece of one’s health is the environment. This notion is especially true for the aging population and should be considered one of the most important factors when searching for a living community. The emergence of the pandemic and the collective quarantine has shown that one’s environment has a significant impact on their overall wellbeing; Covid-19 has proven to be an effective case study showing why our society should be concerned with the design of our living environments.

 

Elderly person using a walker.

Did You Know?

As we age, our surroundings shrink to more local regions, spending the majority of our days inside or around our homes. This lifestyle is often related to low activity levels during the day, resulting in increased health issues, dependency, and obesity levels. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the prevalence of obesity as one of the health issues associated with inactivity among US adults over 60 years old was 41 percent by the end of 2016. Health problems associated with inactivity may lead to a higher level of healthcare dependency, which can end up becoming very costly for individuals and their families.  Providing an appropriate level of physical activity may enhance the physical and emotional health of the aging population and could delay the need for frequent healthcare visits.

 

Designing Healthy, Active Spaces

The latest research recently presented at the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) 2021 Virtual Conference has indicated that we can increase our physical activity by focusing on three elements in the design of our built environments: interior design, exterior design, and neighborhood design.

To help you find the best environment for your loved one, we put together a simple poster of key takeaways for these design elements below.

 

Download your free poster here

Key Takeaways

Ensuring the environment works with health as a tool is vital for overall health and active living. The primary barrier to an active lifestyle is an environment not designed with the needs of the individual in mind and can cause limited opportunities for a full and healthy life. Searching for living communities that put universal access at the forefront allow for increased autonomy for its inhabitants, and one step closer to the happy and healthy lives we all wish for our loved ones.

The EDRA52 Event continued its mission to advance cutting-edge research that helps improve quality of life. Our team is passionate about continuing to advance the field of design, and as such, Enviah team member Dr. Arsalan Gharaveis shared his work at the EDRA52 Conference to synthesize the published literature regarding the impact of environmental design on the improvement of senior residents’ physical activity. If you are interested in learning more about the EDRA52 Virtual Conference that wrapped up this past Sunday, visit their website here.

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