Older people’s everyday life and well-being at the local high street : a study of local town centres in Edinburgh
MetadataShow full item record
For many older people, ageing in place in a familiar environment is beneficial for their well-being, through having opportunities to access local amenities and services, to be connected to the community and to participate in local civic and social life. In spite of their perceived decline, local high streets remain valuable central and well-connected places that can foster ageing in place, yet their potential to sustain well-being in old age has been overlooked. This research explores how everyday use of local high streets supports older people’s well-being, focusing on three case studies – three local town centres – in Edinburgh. It takes a phenomenological approach to study how people interact with these places which involves structured and unstructured field observations, focus groups, and one-to-one and walking interviews with people aged 60-96. The findings illustrate that local high streets enable four key dimensions of older adults’ well-being, by helping to: reduce isolation, providing a restorative social experience away from the home; strengthen sense of place and feelings of attachment; sustain physical health and the pleasure of being out from home; and retain a sense of mastery and autonomy in the completion of everyday living activities. The research revealed aspects of local high streets in Edinburgh and more widely in Scotland that can be improved to enhance well-being in later life. Three main areas of intervention are suggested: an improved pedestrian-friendly, inclusive and walkable public realm integrated with public transport infrastructure; more proactive land use policies and place management to achieve adequate clustering of mixed uses, including social care services, community spaces and a variety of informal settings; and the promotion of town centre living for older people through accessible housing provision located next to local high streets.