Parks and playgrounds aren’t just for children and hikers—playgrounds are for everyone. Probably one of the loveliest things about parks is that basically anyone can get some sort of use out of them. Kids use the playgrounds, teens go for a breath of fresh air, adults go to get their exercise in and wind down from long days at work, and seniors can use them to stay in touch with other generations and stay moving. These are just a few of the ways parks can benefit entire communities.
That said, some parks do better than others when it comes to catering to specific audiences. If you want to make sure that your park is an open space for seniors to enjoy, take a look below. We’ve listed a few important things to consider when designing a public park for seniors. From ensuring ample level ground to providing various activity choices, often the decisions you base around the elderly are great options for other ages as well!
Ensure Level Ground
As we mentioned, a level ground is imperative to a safe environment for both the elderly and for all park-goers. Sure, there are bound to be some hills, especially if you want to keep your park eco-friendly, but when you can, provide as many even surfaces as possible. Make sure walking paths are smooth; this means that you’ll have to maintain the surface to smooth out cracks. You want to make sure the park can accommodate walkers, wheelchairs, and people who may not be fully agile.
Keep it Clean
This is important for any park, no matter what specific audience you’re targeting. When it comes to catering toward elderly people specifically, you’ll want to ensure that there is no debris that may hinder their ability to get around. For example, you want to keep sticks or fallen branches away from sidewalks. You want to ensure that garbage is picked up, simply so that they may feel that they are in a clean and healthy area. Your biggest goal when bringing seniors in is to make them feel safe and welcomed—part of that means getting rid of trash and keeping the park clean.
Save Some Shade
Another big aspect of making sure that seniors feel safe and welcome in your park is ensuring that there are spots of shade and repose. Place park benches and seating options throughout walking paths and make sure there are seating places in the shade. Not only will seniors appreciate these shady spots, but they’ll also keep people safe in the hot summer sun.
Offer Various Activity Choices
Any great park will have a variety of activities for all people involved. It’s not just a playground for the kids, but consider adding a garden area for flower lovers, an outdoor workout area for adult movers, or a picnic area for those who want to celebrate with friends and nature. The more activities you have available for people in general—not just seniors—the more people you’ll bring to a park
We discussed in a previous blog about the benefits of parks for seniors. One of those main benefits is that it provides an intergenerational community. When you provide various activities, you give more of a reason for people to come. That said, there are some activities and areas you can add to your park that will help cater more to elders. We have a few examples outlined below!
Fitness circuits for both independent and guided movement
You may not think of fitness circuits as the most senior-friendly activity, but a lot of seniors head to the park to get their movement and exercise in for the day. For example, if you already have a fitness area, there are some circuits you could add in that cater specifically to guided movement. If a nursing home comes to visit, then you can add in equipment where nurses can follow along with them as they climb or work their bodies. That said, you can also add in independent equipment like spring seating (such as an outdoor medicine ball) that they can do themselves.
This may seem like an obvious one, but the more walking paths you have, the better. Seniors head to parks to get their fresh air, and additional paths mean additional fresh air. Have paths around the playgrounds so that they can enjoy the fresh air and lively activities around them. Have paths loop around garden areas, by ponds, and through forests—just take extra care to clean these and maintain the paths.
If you can provide “activity seating,” you’ll be more likely to draw in the seniors who may not enjoy walking or be able to participate as much. A great example is having tables for chess or providing seating options for paint classes. The more open and versatile your seating options, the better.
Similarly, if you can offer picnic areas in level ground areas, you’ll bring in more guests. That means not just seniors, but also families and friends looking to enjoy eating outside. Some parks even provide little outdoor concert areas so that guests can enjoy outdoor dining and a show. You’ll just have to make sure that your picnic tables are ADA-friendly and safe for seniors.
Provide Accessibility Throughout
Probably the most important thing to consider when designing a public park for seniors is to ensure that it’s accessible. We talked briefly about ensuring that there are wheelchair accessible picnic tables, but even the benches to the equipment you choose needs to have accessibility. It doesn’t mean that every single item and bench needs to be wheelchair accessible, but the more inclusive your park is for people with varying disabilities and backgrounds, the better. You’ll open up your park to a wider audience if you can emphasize accessibility and inclusion.
For all of your park and playground needs, head to Discount Playground Supply. We can help you make sure that the park has all of the things a senior would want, from ADA picnic tables to fitness equipment. Hopefully, you can design your park to be an inclusive place where everyone feels welcome. When you partner with us, you’ll be that much closer to providing a place of comfort and security for all people—not just seniors. Shop with us today; from our outdoor metal benches for schools and parks to additional seating to drinking fountains, you’ll find everything you need!