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How your environment shapes the way you age

Dr. Jennifer Wong is the Director of the Wallis Annenberg GenSpace in Los Angeles, CA, an innovative community center for older adults that focuses on social connection and lifelong learning. In her talk at the 2023 Be Bold Healthy Aging Summit, she talks about the importance of considering and changing our environment as we age.

What’s a built environment?

According to Dr. Wong, a built environment is “the human-made conditions and infrastructure where a person spends their lives.” This environment has a significant impact on one’s mental and physical health. Examples of built environments include housing, outdoor spaces, streets, transportation, and supportive resources.

Why do age-friendly built environments matter?

Dr. Wong discusses how as we age, it’s important to make our built environment age-friendly, which is accessible and inclusive of older adults as they age. She explains that an age-friendly built environment encourages aging in place, and allows you to see your home as a partner in your wellbeing. It also promotes meaningful use of your surroundings, and fosters continuity of activity and life.

How to create an age-friendly built environment:

  • Reconfigure your space with temporary or permanent modifications, starting with your bathroom and kitchen. These spaces are the most adaptable to reconfiguration, and usually where we spend most of our energy. Bathroom features to consider include handrails, shower seats, anti-slip flooring or mats, high-rise toilet seats, and floating sinks.
  • Create ample space in hallways, kitchens, and doorways to make your environment even more age-friendly.

To hear all of Dr. Jennifer Wong’s talk, visit the Bold Explore page.