Population aging and urbanization calls for urban planners to take a closer look at age-friendly plans and policies to support aging in place. Research shows that most older adults prefer to "age in place", continuing to live in their own home or neighbourhood for as long as possible. This study explores the outdoor built environment of an urban neighbourhood in the City of Vancouver, identifying aspects perceived as barriers and facilitators for aging in place. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews with 11 older adults and four key informants, supplemented by photographs and journal entries from the older adults. Data were analyzed using inductive and deductive thematic analysis. Findings show that older adults and key informants agree objective features such as smooth sidewalks, curb ramps, the proximity of green spaces, availability of benches, public washrooms, and street lighting facilitate aging in place. Key informants reported distance to amenities and poor transportation service as barriers. Older adults positively reported on the therapeutic and social aspects of the built environment such as forest walks and meeting places for social interaction as important facilitators for aging in place. To address the issues of population aging and urbanization, this thesis suggests that urban planners need to prioritize age-friendly policies that promote mobility and well-being in neighbourhood planning programs, and further develop age-friendly built environments for aging in place.
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Thesis advisor: Mahmood, Atiya
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