Elderly-friendly inclusive urban environments: learning from Ankara
The aging population and their expectations have become a growing concern in Turkey as in other countries. This study aims to investigate interactions/relationships between the needs, demands and expectations of Turkish elderly and inclusive urban design principles. It tries to answer the research question: how the inclusive urban life could improve elderly life and contribute to achieve an active aging process. An exploratory study was conducted with a total of 100 randomly selected elderly between the ages 65-95 (45 female and 55 male) from the City Centre of Ankara. A survey instrument based on the streets for life' concept (Burton & Mitchell 2006) was developed to gather data. The participants were asked to identify how important inclusive urban design features were in understanding, using and navigating within an urban environment. The findings of the study suggest that an inclusive open environment allows elderly people to feel safer, and thus encourage more regular use of urban space. Overall the results highlight two important insights, first that accessibility is inevitable for increasing the chance of the aging population to participate in the mainstream of community life and second, plain and simple signage is necessary to achieve more liveable urban environments. The study concludes the most important physical requirements and social requirements for elderly people.