Access to nature boosts physical activity among older adults, saves staff time by Susan Rodiek, Ph.D., NCARB
On September 13, 2010, my colleagues and I were gratified to receive a professional award from the American Society of Landscape Architects at the society’s annual meeting in Washington, DC. That award, and the recognition our team has received from numerous organizations that provide long-term care to older adults, reinforced the value of the time and effort we put into developing an instrument that makes environmental evaluations of assisted living communities more quantifiable and reliable, and enables providers to compare satisfaction-related outcomes associated with physical environments.
We developed the instrument based on seven key principles that evaluate specific environmental qualities in assisted living communities (For more information, see Principles for outdoor areas that encourage resident participation on page XX). We then identified up to 10 ratable items that appeared to be the main components of each principle, resulting in a total of 63 individual items, which we used in the evaluation tool. After evaluating 68 randomly selected communities in various parts of the United States, and surveying 1,560 residents and staff, we identified a number of landscape features that were strongly associated with outdoor usage.