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The perceptions of elderly residents toward the physical environment and planning Tufts, Stuart Earl


As the Canadian population ages the implications for urban planning are becoming an important concern. This concern, thus far, has focussed largely upon single issues such as "housing and the elderly" or upon the "institutionalized" elderly. Relatively few investigations have explored the larger issue of the role of urban planning in Canadian communities with a substantial proportion of elderly residents. This study examines the environmental factors that influence the elderly person's "quality of life" in White Rock, British Columbia. More specifically, the objectives are: (1) to describe specific problem areas and identify where, when and how they occur. (2) to identify factors in the physical environment of White Rock that influence an elderly person's ability to maintain personal independence. (3) to review proposed alternative methods of intervention that might offer an improvement in accommodating the environmental requirements of White Rock's elderly residents. The approach taken in this study consists of three steps. The first step summarizes the existing literature on past planning practices in Canada and the United States regarding the elderly together with the environmental requirements of the elderly. The second research task involves the collection of information at the municipal level to establish a profile of White Rock. The third step includes focussed group interviews with three groups of four elderly residents (and one pre-test group) to gain their views on the community's physical environment. As well, focussed interviews are conducted with the local mayor and planner to obtain their responses to the group interview findings. The major conclusions are: (1) there is a need for further study in Canada of the non-institutionalized elderly that strikes a balance between those studies that examine single environmental issues facing the elderly and those that pursue a more holistic approach. (2) maintaining maximum independence in daily living is vitally important to the elderly. (3) there is a heightened effect of the physical environment upon the elderly. (4) there is a need for changes in the practice of community planning regarding the elderly.

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