Easy to access and safe to use
The design of access routes, structures and equipment should take into account mobility challenges that become more common with age, such as declining sensory ability, as well as assistive devices. The park must be safe to move in using a wheelchair or rollator, and thus the surfaces must be smooth and the paths sufficiently wide with reasonable gradients. Instead of stairs, there should be ramps with handrails on both sides. Some paths could be equipped with a continuous handrail for the benefit of walkers with impaired balance.
There should benches along the paths within visual distance of one another. The seats of the benches should be slightly higher than normal, and they should have sturdy backrests and hand rests to make it easier to sit down and get up. Space for wheelchairs should be provided beside the benches.
Exercise equipment should be safe to use and have clearly printed instructions. The equipment must be easily accessible, also from a wheelchair or with a rollator. It must be designed so that people with no prior experience of exercise equipment will also be able to figure out how to use it.
Equipment by a high-quality designer that is specifically designed for senior exercise is a reliable choice. Such equipment is reliably safe to use and designed with the needs of the target group in mind, such as balance, mobility and maintaining and improving muscle tone. The manufacturer may also be consulted concerning a suitable ensemble of equipment: what is important is to put together a set that allows for a range of functions exercising various muscle groups.
The parts of the exercise equipment requiring particular attention may be coloured more brightly so that they stand out from their environment. Colour themes may be employed to help visitors orient themselves in the park, for instance by placing equipment or other elements in a specific colour along a specific route or area. Good lighting is also important. The park must be easy and safe to visit in the morning and evening, even at dark times of the year.
Planting is of course essential for a park. Plants protect visitors from the wind and shade them from the sun. Plants divide up the space and guide visitors, besides reflecting the cycle of the seasons and pleasing the eye as they burgeon, bloom and then take on their autumn colours. Their shape and scent may even prompt memories from past years, and traditional plant species are therefore eminently suitable for a senior park.
Put simply, a good senior park is a place where elderly people like to spend time, that encourages them to remain mobile and maintain social connections, and that is close at hand.
The message we must put across to municipal decision-makers is that sufficient space should be designated for free-form exercise and outdoor life in planning and district design, taking into account the needs of various age groups.
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