Aging and mobility in nature: A McMaster and Royal Botanical Gardens collaboration
With a growing aging population, there is an imperative to document, understand and analyze the engagement with natural built environments by older adults. This knowledge will facilitate the improved mobility of older adults in environments designed to be meaningful, enjoyable and to enhance well-being. Anchored in the Social Sciences, and in collaboration with the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG), this research understands the mobility practices and meanings of older adults in natural built environments. The project takes three forms: (1) a ‘mobility in nature’ survey of older adults who make regular use of the gardens; (2) an observational study of guided interpretative walks at the gardens by older adults; (3) a series of ethnographic studies of nature-based active leisure programming with a specific focus on mobility and aging in these contexts. This research serves as the foundation for an interdisciplinary series of projects in collaboration with the RBG in the area of mobility and aging. Through engagement in these studies, the team will explore viability and utility of extending to older adults the Back to Nature Outdoor Charter for youth about the value and necessity of nature for well-being that is integral at the RBG.
"Funding from the Labarge Centre will help improve our understanding of the benefits of outdoor green space programming for older adults. It will also articulate ways of improving the accessibility and 'age-friendliness' of green spaces that promote mobility."