Eight simple changes to neighbourhoods can help seniors age well

October 12, 2017 by Jerome N Rachele, Jim Sallis, And Venurs Loh in Medicine & Health / Health
Staying physically active can play a big part in ageing well – and a well-designed neighbourhood helps with that. Credit: Maylat/shutterstock

Where we live can play a big part in ageing well, largely because of the links between physical activity and wellbeing. Research shows that two-thirds of Australians prefer to age in place. That is, we want to live independently in our homes for as long as we can. Our neighbourhoods and their design can then improve or hinder our ability to get out of the house and be physically active.

The rapid ageing of Australia's population only adds to the importance of neighbourhood design. In 2016, 15% of Australians were aged 65 or older. That proportion is projected to double by 2056.

These trends present several social and economic challenges, particularly for the health sector. Designing neighbourhoods in ways that promote can help overcome these challenges.

Eight simple steps

The following is a short list of evidence-based steps local and state governments can take to assist to be physically active. These involve minor but effective changes to neighbourhood design.

Why physical activity matters

Physical function – the ability to undertake everyday activities such as walking, bathing and climbing stairs – often declines as people age. The reason for this is that ageing is often accompanied by a reduction in muscle strength, flexibility and cardiorespiratory reserves.

Regular physical activity can prevent or slow the decline in physical function, even among those with existing health conditions.

Middle-to-older aged adults can reduce their risk of physical function decline by 30% with (at least 150 minutes per week). This includes recreational physical activity, like walking the dog, or incidental physical activity, such as walking to the shops or to visit friends.

By making minor changes as outlined above, the health and longevity of our elderly population can be extended. Such changes will help our elderly age well in place.

Provided by The Conversation

"Eight simple changes to neighbourhoods can help seniors age well" October 12, 2017 https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-10-simple-neighbourhoods-seniors-age.html