Aging in medium-sized cities and metropolitan areas: what is the role of urban planning?



People aged 65 and over will account for more than a quarter of Quebec's population in 2031 and more than two-thirds will live outside metropolitan areas.

How can these environments be developed to allow for a positive experience of "aging at home"?

This research explored and defined the aging experience of seniors living in different cities in Quebec, including medium-sized cities. From low-density rural areas to high-rise residential areas, village cores, suburban areas and mixed-use settings, seniors choose to age in a variety of residential forms, often the same in which they have spent a good part of their lives. Beyond the characteristics of their home, it is above all their day-to-day mobility that appears to have a significant impact on quality of life.

It is above all the day-to-day mobility that appears to have a significant impact on quality of life.

Living in an environment that facilitates walking, whether utilitarian or recreational, increases their sense of control over their environment. However, in low-density contexts, as is often the case in medium-sized cities and rural areas, the discontinuity of walkable routes makes it more complicated to get around. Whether they are alone or supported by a family network, a loss of mobility can lead to social isolation.

The research findings indicate that any strategy will have to involve integrating the issues of aging into planning and urban development policies, a strategy that goes beyond the usual local level, and instead involves thinking on a regional level that is more consistent with seniors' living space.

Establishing age-friendly zones offering a diversity of destinations and residential choices is a promising avenue. Developed in accordance with existing development guidelines, these zones are part of a strategy to make the various-sized cities of tomorrow into cities that are more conducive to independent aging in the community.


Main researcher

Paula Negron Poblete, Université de Montréal

Summary

Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: September 2017