Designing the Built Environment to Enhance Quality of Life for the Elderly: Current Perspectives and Opportunities for Bridging the Knowledge Gaps

By Kimberley, R Parry, Cletus Moobela, Tim Whitehead and Tim Goodhead.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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Issues relating to Quality of Life (QoL) for the elderly are now more pronounced than ever due to, among other factors, people living longer. With current UK projections suggesting that by 2033, twenty-three percent of the population will be aged 65 and over, it is apparent that the elderly will increasingly represent a strong social-political force. This increasing number of elderly people and higher expectations of a good life within society has been paralleled by a moderate amount of research on QoL for the elderly. However, despite this burgeoning amount of research and scholarly activities on the subject, it would appear that there is still room for improvement, particularly with regard to enquiry on the auspicious physical environment needed to enhance QoL for the elderly. How do we (re)design both the in- and out-door environments to ensure propitious living conditions for these sections of society? To what extent do, and how best can, decision makers take into account the values, needs and abilities of the elderly in the design of the built environment? Unpacking these profound questions should reveal a panorama of issues that can set the stage for a tripartite research agenda on QoL, the elderly, and the built environment. It is not the intention of this paper to provide answers to such questions but rather to simply establish the case for research. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to identify knowledge gaps on the contribution of the physical built environment in enhancing Quality of Life (QoL) for the elderly. This is achieved by scanning through the literature to identify best practice and knowledge gaps and also providing initial thoughts on a methodological framework for pursuing the emerging research issues.

Keywords: Quality of Life, The Elderly, The Built Environment

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp.35-51. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 725.873KB).

Kimberley, R Parry

Research Student, School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK

Kimberley Parry is a doctoral researcher in the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying at the University of Portsmouth. Her research interests focus on the Quality of Life factors for the elderly people in the context of the external residential environment.

Dr. Cletus Moobela

Senior Lecturer, School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK

Dr. Cletus Moobela is a Senior Lecturer and Course Leader of the MSc Property Development at the University of Portsmouth. His PhD was in the area of urban regeneration, where he developed a complex system view for understanding urban regeneration processes. Cletus has since worked as a Research Associate at the University of Reading, focussing on asset management strategies for social housing and as a Research Fellow at Loughborough University exploring social issues in urban sustainability assessment. His research interests revolve around the three themes of social capital, complexity theory, and social sustainability as they relate to the built environment. He has published close to 20 articles and reports around these themes.

Tim Whitehead

Senior Lecturer, School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, Portsmouth, UK

Tim is course leader for the BSc (Hons) Property Marketing Design & Development course. With both an academic and professional planning background Tim has strategic planning skills based upon UK and international experience. Most recently Tim has been responsible for overseeing property development approvals for a rapidly growing City at the geographical heart of the Vancouver Region in Canada. He has contributed to a number of publications and conference papers including urban quality improvements and economic development, economic impact modelling and planning issues surrounding transport policy.

Tim Goodhead

Principal Lecturer, School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, Portsmouth, UK

Tim recently completed his term of office as Dean of the Faculty of Technology at the University of Portsmouth and returned to his substantive post within the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying. His research interests relate to the coastal zone and he has become particularly interested in the value of heritage property in recent years. Tim serves on the Royal Institution of Chattered Surveyors' South East Region Board and is the RICS educational representative to the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) Commission 2.