What’s your plan for aging in place? New research shows popular answers.

One Minnesota senior comments that communities and neighborhoods are being built as if they live in Peter Pan’s world and no one grows old.

Jessica Finlay, an environmental gerontologist at the University of Minnesota, plans to dedicate her career to researching how senior citizens interact with their communities and neighborhoods emotionally and physically.

Finlay’s most recent study included 125 seniors living independently in the Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. Her studies show that more than 96 percent of America’s older adults live independently in private homes, and only 1.5 million Americans over 65 live in institutional settings.

After conducting such research, Finlay also discovered how aware these senior were to their surroundings. While taking walks around their neighborhoods, seniors knew exactly where there were cracks, bumps, or curbs that could cause debilitating falls. One woman also knew which crosswalks she could or could not make it across in time with her walker.

Another interesting finding was that micro-features in neighborhoods, such as, benches or shaded trees, were small details that make big differences for seniors. Finlay’s findings are not only beneficial to her research on how senior citizen’s interact in their environment, but it could also give some insight to architects and builders who may need to be more conscious of senior citizens’ needs as the population of baby boomers living independently hits an all-time high.

Finlay remarks, “It’s all in the details.”

For the original Star Tribune article, click here.

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