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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Population aging: towards a sustainable future Landucci, Margret


A critical concern for society at the present time is the detrimental effects of human activity on the ecosystems. However, while there is raised awareness about issues such as global warming and the thinning ozone layer, humans still plan and develop the urban landscape from the perspective of the Cartesian worldview. This is also apparent in planning for the aging population. Although there is a large body of literature on population aging and sustainable urban development as well as a significant amount of material on aging and urban planning, the three issues of sustainability, urban planning and population aging are seldom addressed simultaneously. This thesis addresses the question of how sustainability planning principles can be integrated with planning for population aging. To this end, I investigate the underlying paradigms of both planning and the sociology of aging to gain an understanding of the values that underscore the policy directions in both these fields. I also review the literature on population aging, as well as housing and health service planning to highlight some needs, preferences and beliefs of the older population. Finally, I survey the literature on sustainable urban planning to elucidate some points of intersection between the needs and preferences of an aging population and the dominant principles underwriting a more sustainable lifestyle. The most significant themes arising from this investigation are the need for social and physical restructuring through changing paradigms. It is clear that older people are treated as a special group and have been segregated either covertly or overtly from mainstream society. Therefore, a change in values is required normalizing the older population within the societal structure. At the same time, traditional urban planning supports increasing consumption of material and energy resources leading to greater environmental degradation. Physical urban restructuring that reduces fossil fuel consumption and waste production will move society towards sustainability. Social ecology and ecological planning principles underwrite such social and ecological restructuring.

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