Citation:
Browne, C.A. 1992.  The role of nature for the promotion of well-being of the elderly. In: D. Relf (ed.). The role of horticulture in human well-being and social development: A national symposium.  Timer Press, Portland, Ore.
Abstract:
Senior citizens represent the fastest growing segment of the American population. The demand for services for the elderly has increased dramatically in relation to housing, leisure activities, and long-term care. As a result, retirement communities within the US are proliferating at a rapid rate. Many of these communities have substantially-landscaped grounds and outdoor amenities; however, most have yet to be assessed as to whether these landscaped settings have a positive impact on the residents. In fact, our current, general knowledge about the impact the out-of-doors has on the aged in relation to well-being is extremely limited. The purpose of this paper is to report on findings from a research project (funded by the National Endowment of the Arts) which is directed at understanding the extent to which outdoor settings within retirement communities promote psychological, social, and physical well-being. Specifically, this paper will address five areas in which nature may have an impact on the promotion of well-being: aesthetics, environmental stimulation, social interaction, motivation for physical exercise, and self-expression.

The author utilized a multi-method research approach including literature review, 12 site visitations (indicative post-occupancy evaluations), two questionnaires -- one administered to the management and the other to the residents, and interviews with selected residents to determine their outdoor visual and spatial preferences.

 

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