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Role of the built environment in use and access: A comparison of objective and perceived indicators of person-environment fit among older adults with functional limitations
Monday, November 17, 2014
: 12:45 PM - 1:00 PM
Laura Lien, Ph.D.
Department of Rehabilitation Science, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Carmen Steggell, Ph.D.
School of Design and Human Environment, College of Business, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Susanne Iwarsson, Ph.D.
Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
The built environment plays a significant role in the health and well-being of older adults, especially among those with functional limitations. Housing, in particular, serves as a central support or barrier to independence. Considering the projected exponential growth of the U.S. population aged 65 and older by the year 2050, it is expected that the percentage of persons aging with disabilities will subsequently increase. Housing independence for these growing populations will need to be considered. A better understanding of how people and their environments interrelate, or person-environment (P-E) fit, can assist in the creation of appropriate policy and practice interventions to support independence in older age. In response, this study aimed to explore the role of the built environment on use and access among older adults with functional limitations. Data were collected using a concurrent embedded mixed methods approach using objective and perceived indicators of P-E fit. Twelve older adults living in community-dwelling housing participated. While objective indicators identified accessibility problems within the home, participants’ perceptions of usability revealed a range of adaptive environmental behaviors employed to meet actual or perceived functional needs. Our findings suggest that objective access does not always prescribe or dictate perceived use, as usability appears to be malleable with age and functional competency. Future studies are needed that further examine the interaction between older adults and their home environment, and more specifically the association between actual or perceived functional status and environment-specific adaptation behaviors.
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences
Describe the adaptive environmental behaviors employed by older adults with functional limitations to meet objectively assessed or perceived functional needs.
Discuss the importance of both objective and perceived P-E fit in the creation of appropriate policy and practice implications to support independence in older age.
Keyword(s): Built Environment, Aging
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple studies focused on the accessibility and usability of the built environment among older adults with disabilities. My background in architecture and design and human behavior is pivotal and provides a unique approach to this type of research. My scientific interests include person-environment relationships and the impact of the environment on access, use, and meaning of place.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.