A good place to age in place? Exploring the relationships between the built environment, activity participation and healthy aging
Auteurs: Jielan Xu
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The concept of aging-in-place has gained growing popularity in public policy. Integrating a planning perspective on this interdisciplinary research topic, this dissertation focuses on the place where people age in place. This dissertation analyzes aging-in-place with a planning perspective, by exploring relationships between the built environment, activity participation and healthy aging in Canada. The first section analyzes spatial patterns and neighborhood contexts of aging-in-place with census data. It categorizes neighborhoods by their age structures, and compares the built environment and housing characteristics between neighborhoods with distinct age-structure types. The second section takes a closer look at aging in a car dependent built environment. By pooling multiple time-use cycles from the General Social Survey, it examines the changing travel behaviors by gender and cohorts, and the differentiated activity participation between car-users and non-car-users over the life course. Results suggest that a large percentage of neighborhoods in Canada are at the mature-stage (characterized by a high percentage of residents in the baby boomer cohorts). These neighborhoods tend to age steadily and have highly car-dependent built environments. Automobility remains important over the life course for each generations of Canadians, yet older females are more likely to travel by active modes and by transit than are their male counterparts in each cohort. Increased participation gaps (in shopping and obtaining services, active sports, socializing and social participation) are found between car users and non-car-users in older age. Shopping and obtaining services stands out as the most car-dependent activity for older Canadians. Examining the existing neighbourhood contexts of aging-in-place and the current patterns of activity participation among the aging populations is important for developing practical planning visions of a good place for aging-in-place. This dissertation is a preliminary exploration on this interdisciplinary research topic. With extensive analysis of survey data across Canada, this study integrates a planning perceptive and provides original insights on the academic discussion of aging-in-place.
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