Successful ageing Productive ageing Baby boomers 205

Bob Scarfo, Washington Architecture
Directing Change in the Age of Aquarius BOB SCARFO ENDS ASSOCIATED WITH our ageing population are not the harbingers of the bad and trying times we have been led to believe are coming. Embedded in the trends are the resources and opportunities on which to build strong communities. In the growing ranks of our older population are millions of healthy, active people over the age of 65. Employed in support of successful and productive ageing guidelines (Morrow-Howell et aI, 2001; Rowe and Kahn,
more » ... ), our older population's diverse experiences and personal energies hold the keys to urban and rural revitalisation and growth. As our only growing natural resource (Freedman, 1999, p 16), many people who are older want to contribute to the building of healthy communities that are characterised by the multigenerational, living, working, learning and playing. While a phenomenon of global proportions, the cresting of the age wave in 2030 will find the United States with 24 percent of its population, or 71 million people, 65 years of age and older. Their desire to continue to grow personally, to interact intellectually with others, and to remain actively engaged will call on the expertise of landscape architects and other design and planning professionals. As educators, we have a ten-to twelve-year window of opportunity in which to prepare design and planning students for the spatial thinking needed to support productive and successful ageing. The necessary kinds of spatial thinking include cognisance of a mixture of active-living, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented, live, work, and play environments. The newly formed cadre of spatial thinkers will bring a deeper dimension of understanding to and gain expertise from the work of gerontologists and community psychologists. EXPANDING THE WAY WE CONSIDER AGEING In the 1980s, gerontologists shifted their attention from a focus on disability and disease in ageing to the positive aspects of ageing. That shift led to two decades of nationwide surveys, analyses, and dialogue illuminating the productive social and economic roles that older Americans can play in society (Bass, 1995; Rowe and Kahn, 1999; Freedman, 1999). Missing in the research and discussions is an understanding of the spatial implications of productive and successful ageing. Absent are questions dealing with proximity to food and services, residential density and diversity, time spent in travel fulfilling daily needs, and outdoor active-living environments as related to places of paid employment, volunteer activities and various forms of social capital building. One practice that hides the gap is the use of LANDSCAPE REVIEW VOLUME 9(1)