Environment and Accessibility

Environment and Accessibility

The environment helps determine how active older people can be in society

The quality and accessibility of the environment in which an older person lives can have a significant bearing on how active they are in society. Generally, the more accessible and age-friendly an environment is, the more active older people may be.

Good health is associated with access to green areas and the time spent outdoors. Although older people may have physical difficulties, they often wish to be more active and mobile. For this reason it's important to promote safe, comfortable and accessible areas for older people, which requires policy makers to take transport, housing, social participation, community services, outdoor spaces and public buildings into consideration in their decision making.

Relatively minor changes to the outdoor environment and public spaces can enable older people to be more active. Making small adaptations inside and outside the home may not only reduce falls (a major cause of hospitalisation among older people) but also assist older people to live independently and enjoy a higher quality of life.

Environmental threats such as pollution may also affect older people disproportionately. Airborne pollution is responsible for one of the heaviest burdens on public health systems, with 20 million Europeans suffering from respiratory problems, many of whom are older and/or socio-economically deprived.