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Outdoor environments, activity and the well-being of older people: Conceptualising environmental support

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1943-1960
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Volume39
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Abstract

Although the outdoor environment provides older people with various opportunities to enhance their quality of life (QOL), few studies have investigated the extent to which this environment is influential in practice. In order to enable empirical research on this topic, in this paper we propose and examine the concept of environmental support. On the basis of a review of recent literature in gerontology, public health, environmental psychology, landscape architecture, and urban design, we argue that the supportiveness of neighbourhood environments that make outdoor activity (eg, walking) easy and enjoyable is conducive to a better QOL for older people. We introduce three ways of conceptualising environmental support focusing on the following: personally meaningful outdoor activities, environmental attributes found relevant to people's activities, and unmet needs for daily activities. Several conceptual frameworks that incorporate environmental support, QOL and other potentially salient constructs are also presented. We suggest possible future research directions employing this concept.

    Research areas

  • environment, activity, older adults, environmental support, wellbeing

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