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Why it’s relevant

Older people want communities in which they can remain mobile and have easy access to services. The outside environment and public buildings have a major impact on the mobility, independence and quality of life of older people and affects their ability to “age in place”.

Paying attention to the built environment can make the difference between someone participating in life, and them being isolated at home. Accessible public transport, level pavements, places to sit, the removal of trip hazards, good street lighting and public toilets are all vital components to encouraging older people to stay engaged with their local community. Development works must therefore take account of the needs of an ageing population.

In most cases, age-friendly community initiatives that address the outdoor environment do not start from scratch. It is crucial therefore to understand both the constraints and strengths of existing outdoor environments in order to reduce barriers that may exist while preserving what is valued by building on community assets. Older people themselves are very often the best source for advising on the quality of such environments and the changes that may be required to support people of all ages to enjoy more active and connected lives.

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