NDA Findings 4

Older people's use of unfamiliar space (OPUS)

Judith Philips, Swansea University

Finding Synopsis

Older people are increasingly experiencing environments that can be unfamiliar to them. This may be as a consequence of travelling as tourists to new areas; of urban regeneration; or as a result of cognitive decline, where the familiar becomes unfamiliar. This research explored the experiences, mechanisms and strategies used by older people to navigate unfamiliar as well as familiar urban spaces. Forty four participants who took part in a reality cave exercise, focus groups, a questionnaire and a sub group who visited an unfamiliar area as pedestrians describe their use of landmarks, signage and their experience of navigating an unfamiliar town centre. Landmarks and distinctive buildings were more important than signage in navigating unfamiliar areas; however the meaning of space and memories attached to places was significant particularly in familiar spaces. Such experiences can contribute to policy and practice implications for planners in designing for an ageing population.


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