Keeping Elders in the Community: Part I

"Aging in place" is a big buzz phrase in the industry right now. But is it really practical?

community planning, equity, roads and streets, pedestrians, walkability, elders


Amy Carpenter


Danielle Capozzi, Mami Hara


Anna Ishii

In reality, not everyone can safely stay in the home they've lived in for most of their lives, nor can many afford to bring in dedicated home health care. As planners and architects, we need to work towards creating communities that provide a variety of housing options that allow elders to stay engaged, healthy, and vital contributors to their communities.

Communities that work well for elders also benefit children, families, and others with sight and mobility impairments. Some important amenities include:

  • Complete streets with traffic calming measures, pedestrian refuges, and wide sidewalks separated from traffic
  • Paving materials that are smooth yet non-slip, low-slope, even, and colored to minimize glare
  • Well-marked crosswalks, walk signals that allow more time to cross, and larger traffic light lenses for better visibility
  • Benches, street trees, plantings, and canopies for shelter from the rain and sun
  • Available public transit options with accessible transit stops
  • Clear navigation signage at common destinations like shopping centers, medical offices, and parks