Assessing Socio-spatial Aspects of Healthy Community Design for Older Adults Residing in Assisted Living Facilities

By Mehran Madani.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Background: The design of a healthy community through the enhancement of built environment invitation quality impacts the physical and mental health of its residents. This quality is more critical for vulnerable groups of people, such as older adults residing in assisted living facilities (ALFs), improving their neighborhoods’ socio-spatial dialectic. If a neighborhood invites ALF residents to be outside and encourages them to use outdoor environment, it can be called a healthy community that enhances its residents’ social well-being and health status by its features and qualities.

Specific Aims: This study aims to provide spatial recommendations for increasing outdoor public activities of older adults residing in ALFs, by investigating different neighborhood characteristics in core urban and suburban areas to provide empirical findings.

Methods: This study employed the embedded case study design through multiple sources of data (using triangulation technique) to organize a database and to maintain a chain of evidence for data analyzing procedure. Two general sets of data were collected from each case and its context: 1) information about characteristics of facilities and residents for each case, collected by archival records and 2) data from neighborhood physical features and outdoor public activities of residents in each context, collected by direct observation.

Outcome: Overall, the findings revealed that residency in different urban forms, with various neighborhood invitation quality, does influence the outdoor public activities of older adults residing in ALFs. Data analysis showed that the higher neighborhood invitation quality in the core urban area had a positive impact on a higher number of ALF residents using the outdoors.

Keywords: Urban Form, Built Environment, Affordances, Socio-Behavioral Settings, Aging Population, Public Health, Healthy Community Design, Urban Design

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.191-210. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.203MB).

Mehran Madani

Research Assistant, Interdisciplinary Design Institute, Washington State University, Spokane, WA, USA

Mehran Madani worked as a landscape designer for a geriatric home after receiving an undergraduate degree, and there, Madani noted the barriers to the usage of public spaces and also noted how outdoor physical settings might fail to give attention to the public lives of the older adults and their daily social and physical activities. So, Madani focused on the concept of the lack of outdoor social activity in older adults’ daily life as the failure of built environment affordances. In 2006, Madani received the 2006 ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architect) research award for his master’s thesis research and was invited to present in different conferences regarding the new representation of Pedestrian Street (first urban element for socializing) as one of the best solutions for integration of older adults with their immediate community in regard to the safety, comfort, and a feeling of being part of society. Accordingly, Madani intended to pursue these views regarding the public life and health of older adults as he began the doctor of design program to evaluate the impact of urban form on public life and health of older adults, and to assess the supportive healthy community design.