How to design a senior citizen friendly city

Loose paving slabs. A passage that’s too narrow for a mobility scooter. Tiny print on information folders. Try looking at a neighbourhood or city through the eyes of a senior citizen for a change. You’re sure to notice plenty of room for improvement. “And that is exactly what we asked students to do in the ‘Senior citizen friendly city’ research project,” says Esther Kroon, a lecturer-researcher in the Urban Ageing research group.

The study was nominated for the 2019 Pim Breebaart Research Award, an award which recognises the THUAS research project that most effectively combines research, teaching and practice. Esther: “We are extremely pleased to have been nominated. Our project marks the first time a study like this has been conducted at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Which means we weren’t entirely certain how it would turnout. Luckily, the students really enjoyed going out into the neighbourhood for themselves”.

Photographic evidence 

“First, the students explored the WHO’s concept of an Age- Friendly City to learn what makes a city attractive and accessible for senior citizens. After that, they split into small groups and went out in The Hague and Zoetermeer to take pictures of things they noticed. The students then presented these photos to senior citizens and professionals in the neighbourhood, as well as at the ‘Samen Vitaal (Staying healthy together)’ conference organised by the city of The Hague. We also published an article based on the results of this study in an international scientific journal,” Esther says proudly.

Diverse audience 

“Because the research project is part of the  ‘Dealing with dementia’ minor, the group  also  included  students from other faculties and even other universities of applied sciences. That diversity is great because it means everyone brings their own unique perspective,” Esther explains.  “For these photo assignments, students are asked to look  at the world from an elderly person’s point of view. At the same time, they speak with senior citizens, professionals and policymakers and gain an idea of what a municipality’s work entails. This is all useful and practical knowledge for their jobs down the line.”

Would you like to learn more about our research group Urban Ageing? Check the pages on the research group.