A study led by Heriot-Watt is comparing Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester to cities in Brazil in a study that aims to explore how we can make our cities and communities more age-friendly.
It is widely accepted that people benefit from being able to stay in familiar surroundings as they age, close to family, friends and community services. Yet this is only successful if there are the right supports to maintain their social participation, mobility and opportunities to remain active.
Urban environments can be unfriendly and hostile to older people, lacking adequate provision of housing, transport and public spaces. Older adults often become housebound, increasing the risk of loneliness, or need to leave familiar surroundings to go into special housing.
The three-year research project, called Place-Making with Older Adults: Towards Age-Friendly Communities, is being led by Heriot-Watt's Dr Ryan Woolrych.
Working alongside older people
“We have chosen to study cities in both the UK and Brazil because both countries have significant yet progressively different aged populations, offering the opportunity to explore how ageing is experienced across different urban, social and cultural contexts,” he said. “The cities we are studying have distinctive neighbourhoods and we will be working alongside older people to demonstrate how they see their community, and to explore what age friendly environments might look like in the future. This is important if we are to create the environments where people want to age, as supportive environments that encourage healthy living.”