The population of those aged 65+ years old (“older adults”) is increasing. With this change, attention is being placed on their health, wellness, and roles in society. Specifically, studies on healthy aging are addressing ways to update our thinking about older adulthood. This increase in the aging population has also triggered a focus on research to understand both aging and the currently aging cohort of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946–1964).
The Center for Inclusive Aging and Design Research seeks to address the experiences of older adults in the interest of supporting their social and emotional wellness through design. We know these places can be areas of rich interaction, exchange, and discourse. Participation in this “public life” is the hallmark of integration and independence. To foster this engagement, places must be designed to address the social, mental, and physical needs of older adults. Supporting older adults is a new reality as their percent of the total population continues to grow.
Inclusive design efforts are primarily driven by Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) code that requires ramps, handrails, and other features to provide accessibility. In practice, the application of these requirements varies wildly, and the requirements are seldom planned together. (An example of this is a park that provides both accessible parking and restrooms yet locates them at opposite ends of a parking lot.) These efforts may provide access, but they do not support a desired situation. Instead, solutions need to address both the needs of the aging condition (i.e., larger print sizes for vision loss, intuitive layouts to reduce cognitive load) and support the needs of participation at these places (i.e., helpful people nearby for support, lowered noise volumes for socialization) to foster ideal experiences.
To learn more about other age-based design considerations, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are here to help.