Friday, 4 March 2016
One of our recent social media posts (March 1, 2016 - Playgrounds for Seniors https://www.facebook.com/Senioropolis/) has generated a fair bit of organic interest. It seems from the comments that people think its a great idea and that these sorts of structures are popular in parts of Europe. I have actually seen them in a few places as part of public parks for everyone to use and recall seeing the idea pitched a couple of years ago on Dragon's Den for the North American market. The equipment is very similar to many circuit training machines in gyms across the country. The drawback of such equipment out in the open is the maintenance that would be required, the risk of vandalism, the liability if someone injures themselves and the weather conditions in various locations. But, seeing them in action yields many positives that may actually outweigh the negatives. Firstly, it would be equipment that can be used by anyone, not just seniors and not just young people. It would definitely encourage physical fitness in those who visit the area it is placed in without the burden of costs that may be prohibitive for some. It encourages interaction of people in the community. And, if placed in areas where many seniors populate, may be a way to encourage 'active aging'. As we see more and more in the media about 'Age-Friendly Communities' we may want to 'think outside of our North American conservative box' and look at examples in other parts of the world where they have managed quite well to create healthy and integrative environments for all populations. Many European countries have found innovative ways of caring for their elderly that we are only just starting to look at - Senior Co-housing is one such model, but there are others which will hopefully be viewed as examples worth considering for Canadian seniors. I am certain that beyond housing, there are also models that encourage healthy living and healthy aging within specific communities. It would seem that having playgrounds in public parks is one such way to accomplish this. I would love to see playgrounds for seniors all over Canada. As George Bernard Shaw penned: "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing".