Environmental Gerontology

Environmental Gerontology ageing in place

Words create worlds.

~Pierre du Plessis


Environmental Gerontology 

Environmental gerontology is a specialization within gerontology that seeks an understanding and interventions to optimize the relationship between aging persons and their physical and social environments. The field emerged in the 1930s during the first studies on behavioral and social gerontology. In the 1970s and 1980s, research confirmed the importance of the physical and social environment in understanding the aging population and improved the quality of life in old age. Studies of environmental gerontology indicate that older people prefer to age in their immediate environment, whereas spatial experience and place attachment are important for understanding the process.

Some research indicates that the physical-social environment is related to the longevity and quality of life of the elderly. Precisely, the natural environment (such as natural therapeutic landscapes, therapeutic garden) contributes to active and healthy aging in the place.

~Gerontology, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The fields of Environmental Psychology and Environmental Gerontology overlap the Non-physical with the physical. Any architect will tell you the built environment begins first in the mind–then in the physical. And like any discipline they too, have a privileged code or language of terms employed to convey meaning. I’d like to share some useful terms I’ve learned in studying both disciplines over the years.


Environmental Mastery: A sense that one has control over their environment

Attention: How people notice their environment

Perception and Cognitive Maps: How people image the natural/ built environment—information stored in the brain as special networks or cognitive maps

Participation Environments: Citizen involvement in environmental design

Conservation Behavior: The psychology of developing an ecologically sustainable society

Preferred Environments: Places people seek out that make them feel competent/confident—where they not only make sense of the environment, but are also engaged with it

Environmental Stress and Coping: Caused by Failure of preference, prolonged uncertainty, lack of predictability and stimulus overload

Complexity: Enough variety to make the environment worth learning about

Mysterious: Prospects of gathering more information about an environment

Person-Environment Fit: The environment’s challenges are readily met by the individual—abilities match demands

Wayfinding: Environmental cues that lead to destination goals

Legibility: One can explore the environment without being lost

Social Logic: Designed to optimize social interaction

Coherence: A sense that things hang together

Self-efficacy: Inner knowing that one can perform (r/t locus of control)

Environmental Press: Demands caused by the environment

Restorative Environments: A place to recover from environmental Stresses

Aging in Place: Dynamic Self-determined Process of living in a home environment safely and INTER-dependently as you age.

I encourage you to further explore these two fields for a systems understanding of  the environments in which we grow older.

~Cheers Patrick


Get Environmental Gerontology: Making Meaningful Places in Old Age

Video: Professor Sheila Peace/The Environments of Ageing


error: Content is protected !!