What Makes a Community Age-friendly? Conceptualizing Livability through Mapping

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  • Title: What Makes a Community Age-friendly? Conceptualizing Livability through Mapping
  • Author(s): Kendra Heatwole Shank
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Aging & Social Change
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Aging and Society
  • Keywords: Age-friendly Cities, Livability, Social Impacts
  • Volume: 7
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2016
  • ISSN: 2160-1909 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2160-1917 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2160-1909/CGP/v07i01/61-76
  • Citation: Heatwole Shank, Kendra. 2016. "What Makes a Community Age-friendly? Conceptualizing Livability through Mapping." The International Journal of Aging and Society 7 (1): 61-76. doi:10.18848/2160-1909/CGP/v07i01/61-76.

Abstract

As the number of older adults who live at home throughout later life increases, it is important to understand what makes a community livable—or “age-friendly”—for an aging population. We do not adequately understand dimensions of community participation in relation to older adults’ overall well-being, and current conceptualizations do not always reflect lived experiences of older adults. This multiple case study employs GPS mapping methods, interviews, and naturalistic observation to obtain an empirically grounded model of community participation for older adults. Findings include varied temporal patterns and unique spatial characteristics of participation; these findings suggest a need to re-conceptualize a community’s “age-friendliness” though a lens of older adults’ engagement in daily activities. Instead of conceptualizing age-friendliness as a list of features available in a community, these findings highlight the need for a more dynamic understanding of older adults’ ability to participate in the necessary and chosen activities of everyday life, thereby maximizing well-being.