Changing Perceptions of Aging in Planning

In planning, stereotypes of older adults still dominate, and it’s time for that message to change.

1 minute read

March 22, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink

Elderly Walking

Nejc Vesel / Shutterstock

"I won’t bore you with the long list of words that are often used for older adults in popular culture. Instead, just consider the ones we tend to use in the transportation profession: 'the elderly,' 'senior citizens,' or 'seniors and people with disabilities.' Ultimately, these words—especially when coupled with photos or icons—result in a trope that older adults are inactive and feeble. This stereotype can lead to transportation professionals dismissing us," writes Carol Kachadoorian.

She urges planners to think about the images used to depict older adults and the language that refers to them. For example, photos of active older people instead of sedentary ones better represent the range of ages and abilities in this demographic group.

"When planning and designing for older adults, consider how you’d like to be treated at any stage of life: as a valued member of the community who is active, engaged, and worthy of true effort—not an afterthought," says Kachadoorian.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020 in Insights (Toole Design)

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