Three: Negotiating unfamiliar environments

This chapter looks at the mechanisms and strategies used by older people to navigate unfamiliar spaces as pedestrians. Based on interviews with forty-two older people collecting both quantitative and qualitative data, a street audit and interviews with planners, three principal factors helped or deterred older people in navigating an unfamiliar urban setting – the use of landmarks, the availability and usability of signage and if a public space was associated with memories. Stressful areas were identified as those where there was a perception of sensory overload and shared and unclear spaces. The implications for planners are discussed with regard to creating spaces and places that assist older people to remain active and independent.

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