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Creating Vital Communities: Planning for Our Aging Society

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Perhaps the greatest challenge to planners is the fact that people are affected by aging in a variety of ways. Many very old people are quite capable of strenuous physical activity: witness an 87-year old I know who still goes mountain climbing! Others feel the physical changes of growing old at an earlier age, experiencing a variety of symptoms.

The bottom line is that the environment must be designed in ways that accommodate people with a wide range of capabilities. In responding to one recognized need, it is also important to avoid creating problems for people with different limitations. For example, while a ramp may be essential for some to get into a building, the same ramp may present a problem to a person using a walker. For that person, a series of steps deep enough for the walker is a better solution.

Emphasis also needs to be placed on the idea of developing linkages. A "partially" accessible environment may well be totally inaccessible if key linkages are missing. For example, a state of the art bathroom facility in a senior center will be of little value if a person in a wheelchair cannot get into the building because of a gravel-topped parking lot. ...

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