Provide opportunities for both independent and guided exercise
I prefer the term senior park because it is more of an umbrella term. A senior park is not just for sport and exercise: it is an area with multiple functions and purposes, catering to the senses, memory-reinforcing experiences and social activities, in addition to physical fitness.
A senior park is defined as a park or recreational area designed with particular reference to mobility restrictions imposed by old age. The purpose of such a place is to provide opportunities for both independent and guided exercise and to encourage the elderly to remain mobile.
In designing a senior park, perhaps the most important thing is the idea of comprehensive wellbeing and encouraging people not just to exercise but to spend time together. The park must be easily accessible and free of obstacles. It should encourage and inspire visitors of all ages, but especially senior citizens, to exercise and interact with others.
Community is integral to a successful senior space
Another important function is to provide a setting for social interaction, thereby reinforcing a sense of community.
Before starting the creative planning, it is a good idea to get acquainted with one or more senior parks that have already been built and to review the experiences gained from them – what has worked and what requires further development.
User experiences are valuable and important. Professionals working with the elderly, such as fitness instructors and physiotherapists, or even nurses and physicians, may have useful tips and ideas to offer designers.
Local residents and future users should be engaged in the project by being consulted on their views and wishes.
The natural environment, history and cultural values of the proposed location also impose certain parameters on the design.