Category Archives: Ageing

OPENspace (and friends) at #RGSIBG16

It’s time for the Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society, which is held in collaboration with the Institute of British Geographers.

The theme for 2016 is ‘nexus thinking’, a way of addressing the interdependencies, tensions and trade-offs between different environmental and social domains.

OPENspace is involved in five papers at this year’s conference, which you can follow on social media using the hashtag #RGSIBG16.

Here’s where you can find out more about two of our current research projects: Mobility, Mood and Place (which looks at older people’s mobility outdoors); and Woods In and Around Towns (which explores urban woodlands and quality of life in deprived communities).

RGS-IBG conference papers on Mobility, Mood and Place

Wednesday 31st August 2016

Measuring Wellbeing (11:10-12:50)      
Skempton Building, Lecture Theatre 207 

Mapping brain imaging as a measure of emotional wellbeing in older people walking in different urban spaces.

Dr Steve Cinderby* of The University of York will be presenting this paper, which has been co-authored by Dr Sara Tilley of OPENspace and colleagues at the Universities of Edinburgh, York, Heriot-Watt and University College London.

Thursday 1st September 2016

Everyday geographies of ageing (1): (im)mobility, independence and ageing ‘well’ (09:00-10:40) 
Sherfield Building, Room 10  

Living in the moment or experiences of a lifetime? Considering environmental influences past, present and future on mobility in older age

Professor Jamie Pearce of the The Human Geography Research Group at the University of Edinburgh will be presenting this paper, which has been co-authored by Professor Catharine Ward Thompson, Professor Jenny Roe, Dr Katherine Brookfield and Dr Sara Tilley at OPENspace, and colleagues at the Universities of Edinburgh, York, Heriot-Watt and King’s College London.

RGS-IBG conference papers on Woods In and Around Towns

Thursday 1st September 2016

Greenspace Justice for Health and Wellbeing (16:50-18:30) 
Royal School of Mines, Room G.06

Exploring parents’ perceptions and visits to local urban woodlands in deprived communities

Dr Sara Tilley of OPENspace will be presenting this paper, which has been co-authored by Dr Eva Silveirinha de Oliveira and Professor Catharine Ward Thompson.

On Friday 2nd September, Sara will also be chairing the first session on ‘Time at the nexus: mobility and modal choice’which she co-convenes with Dr Julie Clark of the University of Glasgow, and presenting her PhD research in the second session (again co-convened with Julie) in a paper entitled Understanding the Multi-Level Forces Affecting Mobility Trends.

* Steve will also be talking about MMP at the annual ‘research into policy’ event co-hosted by the Transport Geography Research Group and UK Department for Transport (DfT). This pre-conference event takes place at the DFT on Tuesday 30th August 2016. Steve’s presentation is entitled Interactions between urban infrastructure design and use on older people’s mobility and well-being: evidence from three UK case studies.


> Browse other conference papers given by OPENspace team members

Immersing myself in data – an MSc student’s perspective on analysing walking interviews

Earlier this year, we were delighted to welcome Neil Abercrombie to the OPENspace team for a three-month placement on current project, Mobility, Mood and Place (MMP). Since then, Neil has completed an MSc in Social Research at the University of Edinburgh with a dissertation based on the work he did for us. Neil’s role was to analyse the qualitative data collected from 19 older adults during walking interviews in environments of their own choosing. In this guest blog, he reflects on his time on the project and what he’s learned from the experience…

Photo of a cyclist on a canal towpath

The towpath along the Union Canal in Edinburgh – one of the routes chosen by an older walker

I came to this placement with an interest in understanding different social behaviours and the reasons behind them. The prospect of researching the activities of older adults was intriguing, especially considering that encouraging older adults to walk is an increasingly important issue for maintaining good health within ageing populations.

I was excited to work with data being used in a genuine research project with potential implications for others in the future. I have performed my own personal research projects in the past, but felt that I could learn a lot more from working within a research group.

Immersing myself in data

My main role involved analysing the content produced during 19 qualitative walking interviews with older people. I read through interview transcripts for each walk, while also looking through the photos taken and listening to the audio recordings. My plan was to immerse myself in the data created. This proved particularly useful in a few instances, as I could hear or see things mentioned during interviews which I might not have understood quite so well just by reading the transcripts.

Working with several different forms of data addressing the same content was a new experience for me. While it was challenging at first, being faced with a large database, I slowly worked through it. As a result, I came upon a wealth of findings for my dissertation.

What I uncovered about older adults and walking

I found some key points about the way that older adults plan and enjoy their walks. When picking walks to go on, older adults appreciated familiarity in their findings, and selected areas where they are familiar with the history of the area, or the people living in it, or had personal connections through their memories. However, they also appreciated seeing variety in the same areas they walk though, such as changes in the weather, meeting different people on walks, or just to walk a slightly different route to reach the same places over time.

In terms of opinions, older adults enjoyed walking through more natural environments, as this helped them to relax and get the most enjoyment from the walk. Even when near an urban environment, being able to sense nature – for example, seeing plants, hearing birds or feeling comfortable ground under one’s feet – was enough to enjoy a walking route. The biggest disruptions were damage to the land, cars, and inconsiderate behaviours of other users, such as cyclists who rode too fast and too close to walkers that they stressed them with the possibility of being hit.

In analysing these results, findings can be placed on a hierarchy of what influences walking decisions more strongly. Issues such as accessibility and safety were clearly more important in findings than other factors such as comfort. This is because individuals would avoid specific areas if they could not get to them, or did not feel safe in them, but would still walk through some areas even if they complained about them being uncomfortable.

This is an updated version of Affonso Zuin’s (2005) hierarchy*, which has been given support through the results of the study. Findings such as these show that some issues of walking should be addressed over others, to encourage as many adults to take up walking as possible.

Working as part of a team

I am grateful for the experience gained from my time at OPENspace where, in addition to analysing data, I was given the opportunity to sit in on, and present my work at, an MMP Advisory Group Meeting. Additionally, I designed a poster on my work for a conference within the University’s School of Social and Political Science (SSPS).

On a more personal note, working fixed hours has given me a sense of structure. Having previously been used to the student lifestyle of working alone, and whenever I can, I have had to coordinate myself to complete work alongside others, such as by being prepared to show correspondents what I have done. I believe that these challenges, although not directly connected to the finished dissertation, have given me plenty of new experiences to draw upon in later life.

I would like to extend thanks to the members of OPENspace for welcoming me into their workspace for the last few months, giving me this opportunity to grow as an individual and help them with their research in return. Working around established researchers has been an insightful experience, and has pushed me to continually work harder than I have done before. This has challenged me in many unexpected ways, through data analysis, project writing, and planning, but I feel more prepared for the next stage of my life, whatever that may be.

* Zuin, Affonzo M. 2005. ‘To Walk or Not to Walk?: The Hierarchy of Walking Needs.’ Environment and Behavior. 37(6). pp. 808-836.

OPENspace would like to thank Neil for his excellent work during his time with us and congratulate him on winning first place for the poster he presented on his contribution to MMP at the SSPS conference. We wish him well for the future.

If you would like to find out more about Mobility, Mood and Place (MMP), please join us for our fourth international conference in October 2016 when we will be sharing emerging findings from the research alongside a range of keynotes and papers.

> Find out more about our fourth international conference on the MMP website

Is it Nice Outside? Dementia and the natural environment

Here at OPENspace, we’re delighted to see the publication of the latest Natural England report, Is it nice outside? New research into dementia and the natural environment.

The result of a collaborative project with Dementia Adventure, the Mental Health Foundation and Innovations in Dementia, the report reflects the views of 54 people living with dementia and over 170 carers.

Image of older people walking outdoors

Having explored older people’s attitudes towards getting out and about in a number of recent projects (including Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors), we see many of the same thoughts and needs articulated by people with dementia in the report, including…

  • their drive to be physically and socially active outdoors;
  • the importance, to them, of informal walking outside;
  • their appreciation and need for a quality environment – one with accessible signage, walkways on even ground, and facilities such as toilets, cafes and places to sit and relax.

We are pleased to see that the report bears out the popularity of city parks and public gardens and that “several people with dementia talked passionately about the role their local park played in providing them with somewhere to go, and as somewhere to enjoy watching other people taking part in activities”.

OPENspace and Natural England

As a member of the Outdoors for All Strategic Research Group, Catharine Ward Thompson commented on the new report prior to publication.

OPENspace and Natural England have worked together many times over the years, most recently on a project looking at the importance of ‘wild adventure space’ for young people.

The launch of Is it Nice Outside? comes in the same week that we announce funding for the second phase of Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods, our knowledge exchange programme with dementia researchers at the University of Stirling.

Funded by the Scottish Universities Insights Institute, this project explores how local communities can support people with dementia, meeting the urgent need for insights to guide the development of environments for ageing-in-place and lifelong social inclusion.

Download the report, Is it nice outside? New research into dementia and the natural environment, from the Natural England website

Find out more about Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods

Find out more about Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors

Katherine and Sarah at Active Living Research 2016

This week, two of our researchers are at ALR2016 in Florida, USA.

The Active Living Research Annual Conference brings together researchers and active living champions from over 30 disciplines to advance knowledge and action around active communities.

The 2016 conference theme, Equity in Active Living, explores opportunities to ensure that all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, economic background, level of education, age, sexual orientation, gender identify, physical and/or cognitive ability, have access to safe and enjoyable places to be physically active.

Katherine Brookfield and Sara Tilley are delivering two of the three papers in the Conference session on Older Adults; only 20 academics papers were accepted to the conference overall (in addition to 20 by practitioners), so the team have done exceptionally well.

And they won’t miss this gorgeous January weather in Edinburgh…

Edinburgh in the rain

Introducing our fourth international conference…

We are delighted to announce an international conference on Habitats for Happy and Healthy Ageing.

The conference will take place in Edinburgh on 11th – 14th October 2016.

This is the first announcement of the call for presentation and poster abstracts.

The call, and details of online submission, will be forthcoming later in January 2016.


The conference themes are:

Theme 1: Healthy, happy and active ageing

How can we realise healthy, happy and active ageing for all?

We invite abstracts that consider diverse factors including exercise, nutrition, service provision, assistive technologies and adaptations, income and benefits, social isolation and participation.

Theme 2: Co-design and the built environment

What makes an environment age-friendly? How can we better involve user groups in the design of our built environment?

We invite abstracts on the physical design of age-friendly environments at a range of scales, from individual homes to the neighbourhood and the wider community, as well as on innovative methods of co-design, particularly those engaging older adults.

Theme 3: Experiencing mobility

What does mobility mean for older adults? How is it experienced and perceived?

We invite abstracts on various aspects of ageing and mobility including mobility behaviours and practices, aids and barriers to mobility, what motivates mobility, and older people’s experiences and perceptions of outdoor mobility.

Theme 4: Lifecourse of health and place

Does an individual’s place of birth, and the places in which they have lived, influence their health in later life? What might the introduction of a lifecourse perspective bring to our understanding of the relationship between health and place?

We invite abstracts on the relationship between health and place as conceived through a lifecourse perspective. This could be through the use of historical environmental data, or other approaches.


We are delighted to confirm the following keynote speakers:

  • Professor Billie Giles-Corti, Director, McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
  • Professor Gloria Gutman, Vice-President, International Longevity Centre Canada and Professor/Director Emerita, Simon Fraser University Gerontology Research Centre
  • Professor Richard Sennett, Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and University Professor of the Humanities at New York University
  • Professor Sarah Wigglesworth, Director, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and Professor of Architecture, University of Sheffield

The Welcome Address will be given by Dr Heidrun Mollenkopf, Vice President of AGE Platform Europe and Member of the AGE Universal Accessibility and Independent Living Expert Group.


To register your interest and receive future conference announcements, please email OPENspace@ed.ac.uk



Logo for Open Space People Space conference series
The conference is the fourth in the international Open Space : People Space (OSPS) series. Previous OSPS conferences have taken place in Edinburgh in 2004, 2007 and 2011.
Find out more about previous OPENspace conferences

 

Habitats for Happy Ageing

It’s 20th March, the UN International Day of Happiness, and what better way to mark it than with the first of our Habitats for Happy Ageing events.

Photo of audience members at the Habitats for Happy Ageing event

Image courtesy of Ben Shmulevitch

Thank you so much to everyone who came along to this free event at the Reid Concert Hall, including our two guest speakers, Neil Thin (University of Edinburgh) and Val Bissland (University of Strathclyde).

As well as bite-sized talks by these two amazing experts in happiness and place, we were delighted to share insights from our current research project, Mobility, Mood and Place (MMP).

Photo of a student talking to guests at Habitats for Happy Ageing

Image courtesy of Ben Shmulevitch

Guests had the chance to talk to the students involved in our co-design research, to try on the EEG headset used in our ‘environment and affect’ study (and see how it articulates brainwaves on a computer) and to take a short, paper-based mood test.

They could also browse a range of visual material, including models, maps of Edinburgh over time, and captioned images from our photography competition.

Photo of participants at Habitats for Happy Ageing

Image courtesy of Ben Shmulevitch

The ‘science festival’ format worked well with our audience, of which most were aged 65 or over. We received really useful feedback, including on the sorts of positive ways in which people might use what they had heard us talk about or discussed with us. 91% of those who attended rated the event as enjoyable and useful.

Here’s a little video providing a taster of what went on…

Screengrab from the trailer for Habitats for Happy Ageing

Selecting this image will take you to the video on vimeo

> Find out more about Mobility, Mood and Place (MMP) on this website

> Find out more about Habitats for Happy Ageing on the MMP website

> Read an article about the event – with reader’s photographs – on the STV Edinburgh website

> Read an article about the event on the Living It Up Scotland website

I’DGO featured in major new report

Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors (I’DGO) has been featured in Making the Case for the Social Sciences: Ageing, the second report on the value and impact of research by the Academy of Social Sciences.

Dedicated to research into ageing, and how it supports effective policy making, the report is partnered by AgeUK and the British Society of Gerontology.

Set within the context of recently announced tax changes and public expenditure reductions, its case studies illustrate the growing evidence base on the socio-economic challenges of ageing and how policy can redress wide discrepancies in life expectation, income and health.

Launched at a ministerial event on Tuesday 20th July 2010, “Making the Case…” acknowledges the impact of the built environment on wellbeing and I’DGO’s progress in improving the quality of life of older people through design guidance such as Lifelong Access to Parks and Public Open Spaces.