Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "aging"

The Importance of Nature in Older Populations

08/02/16 | View Comments

TKF Whitman Walker 0127We live in an aging population. Around 14% of the population of the United States is aged 65 years or older. By 2060, it is estimated that this number will double. As we live longer and elder populations rise, the benefits of living near green space become more and more apparent. At the same time, the number of people living in towns and cities hovers around 80% placing an even greater importance on both the availability of and easy access to urban parks and green space.

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Uncover Place through Co-design: Interview with Dr. Katherine Brookfield and Iain Scott

02/23/16 | View Comments

“…in each of the cities we worked, they were kind of broken places. Old and abandoned buildings or, structures being used in a different way than when first built. Canals and viaducts that are now largely obsolete. Abandoned infrastructure. Places that are forgotten and not safe. The older people we worked with in these places were certainly concerned about safety but also valued more these older, forgotten aspects of the city. They said things like , ‘My uncle worked in that building 50 years ago… I remember my father telling me what he did there…’ They were attached to these objects. They had personal memories in these places that carried great personal weight.” – Iain Scott, describing an elder-led walking tour in a UK co-design project

Photos from one strand of the MMP project. Source.

Photos from one strand of the MMP project. Source.

How can we design places that are enjoyable to be in and easy to move around in when we are older?

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Design and Fund Accessible Gardens

02/09/16 | View Comments

Landscape architects incorporate Universal Design Principles into spaces to allow inclusive, accessible use. Adequate shade areas, seating, and easy to maneuver paths are some of the key elements of thoughtfully designed gardens. Community garden leaders, Firesouls, and others who may not have a design degree can create inclusive spaces using found materials and easily implemented ideas. Tailoring spaces according to community needs is essential.

Accessible garden 'A Wider Circle' soon after installation of shade trellis and smooth paths.

A Wider Circle, an accessible garden in a D.C. public housing residence soon after a TKF grant supported the installation of plants, a shade trellis and smooth paths.

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Healthy Communities for You and Your Parents

02/02/16 | View Comments

Health is often believed to be the outcome of personal choices, such as one’s diet, whether to drink bottled water, or how often to exercise. Yet health officials now recognize that one’s surroundings, from home to neighborhood, are equally important in promoting health. Spending time with family and friends, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and living in a community with accessible paths to parks and gardens are essential to maintaining good health and a positive mindset.

Neighborhood design facilitates older people’s outdoor activities.

In interviews with elderly apartment residents, ‘satisfaction levels’ were significantly higher among residents whose apartments overlooked natural settings, and among those who lived closer to certain kinds of outdoor settings.1

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Our Aging Cities, Our Aging Bodies

07/14/15 | View Comments

In our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This month we examine the health needs of older Americans and the array of healthy experiences found in Nature Sacred spaces.

Cultures over the past thousands of documented years (if not more!) incorporated gardens and trees in their origin stories or traveled to natural springs in search of health and healing.  Most of us deeply feel what some theorists call the theory of biophilia, the claim that humans have an innate affinity and need for contact with other living beings. If you are reading this, it is probably not news to you that green spaces in our urban neighborhoods are beneficial in many ways! An abundance of research over the past forty years provides evidence that spending time in metro green spaces can improve blood pressure, heart rate, stress hormone indicators (cortisol), white-blood cell count, attention, memory, mood, and self-esteem. For example, when humans garden our cognitive abilities improve, we experience pleasing sensory and aesthetic experiences and improved neural connections contributing to socio-emotional emotions. 1

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Supporting Elder Health in our Communities

07/07/15 | View Comments

In our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This month we examine the health needs of older Americans and the array of healthy experiences found in Nature Sacred spaces.

As the older U.S. adult population continues to increase and diversify, there is a need to provide various ways to understand and promote wellness. Eighty percent of our U.S. population live in cities and towns. As the population continues to concentrate in urban areas we must seriously consider the role of urban environments in our everyday health. For our older members of society, generally those 65 and older, the health benefits of urban green spaces can play a meaningful role in quality of life.

Never before have so many people lived for so long. Life expectancy has nearly doubled over the last century, and today there are 35 million Americans age 65 and older. The aging of the population—in past decades and in the foreseeable future—presents both a challenge and an opportunity.
— Director, National Institute on Aging

elder from ee paper

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    We are a private nonprofit that supports, informs, and inspires the creation of publicly accessible urban green spaces. We believe that every city resident needs nearby green space to provide opportunities for mindfulness, respite, and renewal. The Foundation has issued its final grants to build five Open Spaces Sacred Places and research the impacts on a variety of users with the hope that the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing will be scientifically proven.

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