Socially Healthy Ageing: The Importance of Third Places, Soft Edges and Walkable Neighbourhoods
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Population ageing is a complex subject with implications for public policy and urban and regional planning. A key community responsibility of population ageing is to ensure the health and wellbeing of this cohort. In this respect, planning for socially healthy ageing is a critical area requiring urgent and substantial research. This paper discusses the impacts of physical neighbourhood environments on the social life — a component of social health — of older people. The research is focused on where, in the neighbourhood, the social life of older people takes place. It investigates the role of soft edges [transition zones between the private area inside the home and the public domain of the city], third places [social place that is not home or workplace] and walkable environments in the formation of different types of ties or relationships: strong, weak, and absent, among older people. Conclusions are based on data collected through observation and semi-structured interviews with 54 older people (aged 65 and over) living in three case study areas located in the city of the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Findings align with much of the existing literature in that they reveal the importance of third places as meeting points. Soft edges and walkable areas are also found to be important in fostering frequent social interaction between older people.
State of Australian Cities Conference 2015: Refereed Proceedings
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