Transforming spaces, transforming lives: An integrated community partnership to enhance the health and mobility of older adults
Principal Investigator: Heather McKay, School of Kinesiology, UBC
Partner Organizations: City of Vancouver, West End Seniors Network
The growing older adult population is at risk of a host of age-related health problems and faces increasing challenges in getting out and around in their community, which has major social and economic implications. The aging demographic will challenge cities to adapt the urban environment to be "age-friendly", to allow for people to live healthfully, comfortably and independently as they age.
This project capitalizes on a "natural experiment." The City of Vancouver has committed funds to adapt features of the built environment in downtown Vancouver along the Comox-Helmcken Greenway to create an environment that puts walking and cycling first (mobility) and that highlights the role of place-making (social spaces that build a sense of community). In partnership with the City, we are evaluating the process of creating and implementing community-informed built environment changes and will measure their impact on mobility and health outcomes of older adults. This project will produce new knowledge on the influence of the built environment on older adult mobility and health which can be mobilized into finding solutions to slow the course of mobility decline and social isolation faced by older adults, and guidelines for cities that wish to make "age-friendly" built environment changes.