“Suppose we transform housing by making it more accessible, both physically and economically, paired with robust home and community based services…
We are now talking about going to Mars and space tourism, yet we can’t keep our people within their community in their own home?”
Environmental gerontologist Emi Kiyota believes that ageing in place requires thinking about neighborhoods as part of a care ecosystem.
City planners and developers could reimagine the environment to allow elderly to stay mobile close to home – walkable paths with lots of shade, benches on busy errand routes; corridors could be widened to become spaces for people watching so one never has to travel far for interaction.
However, solutions are not just a set of physical designs. Ageing in place is also about
helping persons remain in the web of their lifeworld.
The holistic solution should involve physical interventions, as well as opportunities for elders to contribute to their community, “If they can be a part of environmental transformations with their knowledge and skills, it will give them a concrete sense of accomplishment and attachment to their community.”
Emi advocates designing flexible, “inconvenient” environments that facilitate social interaction, “If everything is pre-designed to be convenient, we do not have to talk to each other. Shortcuts can be designed to require one or two steps where older persons have to ask others for help, with the longer route available with full accessibility. For example, we intentionally installed gravel paths from parking spaces, so that people have to help older persons access the entrance safely. We believe that intentionally designed inconvenient places facilitate and somewhat force conversations.”