Supporting Healthy Aging through Walkable Built Environment

Rural seniors may be especially vulnerable to the obstacles posed by their built environment and often face unique challenges because of geographic isolation, dispersed populations and road conditions, all of which can limit seniors’ access to services and supports or areas for physical exercise. In this study we will look at the built environment in the communities of Watrous and Wolseley and how it influences seniors’ mobility. We will use two instruments to assess the rural built environment along with key informant interviews to document local policies and programs that support aging in place.

Goals / Outcomes: This study will look at how the built environment in rural communities can affect seniors’ mobility as well as their ability to age in place. The team will produce community reports for Watrous and Wolseley providing details of the environmental audit (e.g. maps of built environment attributes) and a report on policies and programs that support seniors in rural communities. We will make recommendations for interventions to improve infrastructure to support seniors so they can age in their own communities. We will also produce a web-based application to provide community leaders with data that can inform policy to support healthy aging and lessen barriers to mobility.