Co-designing Urban Living Solutions to Improve Older People’s Mobility and Well-Being

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mobility is a key aspect of active ageing enabling participation and autonomy into later life. Remaining active brings multiple physical but also social benefits leading to higher levels of well-being. With globally increasing levels of urbanisation alongside demographic shifts meaning in many parts of the world this urban population will be older people, the challenge is how cities should evolve to enable so-called active ageing. This paper reports on a co-design study with 117 participants investigating the interaction of existing urban spaces and infrastructure on mobility and well-being for older residents (aged 55 + years) in three cities. A mixed method approach was trialled to identify locations beneficial to subjective well-being and participant-led solutions to urban mobility challenges. Spatial analysis was used to identify key underlying factors in locations and infrastructure that promoted or compromised mobility and well-being for participants. Co-designed solutions were assessed for acceptability or co-benefits amongst a wider cross-section of urban residents (n = 233) using online and face-to-face surveys in each conurbation. Our analysis identified three critical intersecting and interacting thematic problems for urban mobility amongst older people: The quality of physical infrastructure; issues around the delivery, governance and quality of urban systems and services; and the attitudes and behaviors of individuals that older people encounter. This identified complexity reinforces the need for policy responses that may not necessarily involve design or retrofit measures, but instead might challenge perceptions and behaviors of use and access to urban space. Our co-design results further highlight that solutions need to move beyond the generic and placeless, instead embedding specific locally relevant solutions in inherently geographical spaces, populations and processes to ensure they relate to the intricacies of place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-422
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number3
Early online date11 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2018


  • Active ageing
  • Mobility
  • Older people
  • Urbanisation
  • Well-being

Cite this