We think about playgrounds for kids, but we also need playgrounds for seniors, both for their physical and mental well-being.
Most of us ‘big kids’ can’t resist a little go on the swings (oh if the bottom would still fit on the seat!) or an attempted see-saw in the kiddies playground. But with a rapidly ageing population, there are many reasons why we should be building specialist playgrounds for the other end of our lifespan as well.
Older people often become inactive. They lack outdoor space if they downsize to an apartment or retirement village and are either intimated by gyms or unable to afford membership. Although a daily walk is a great fitness boost, other activities that promote flexibility and upper body muscle strength would be very beneficial. Atrophying of upper body muscles and a resulting change in weight distribution is one of the underlying causes of falls in older people.
An outdoor activity area also promotes social interaction in pleasant surroundings, an important part of mental and emotional health.
A playground for seniors is different to an adult outdoor gym as it caters for a range of mobilities and also disabilities. The equipment has to be easy to use without any explanation, and needs to feel like fun. It’s not about chin-ups and sit-ups.
The UK has been building seniors’ playgrounds since 2008, when the first opened in Manchester, followed by a Senior Playground in London’s Hyde Park. There are also several in the USA, Europe and Asia.
Read more about Senior Playgrounds at Sourceable