Cities worldwide are reimaging what playgrounds are and who can benefit from them.
Most of us, when we hear the word playground, we usually imagine a group of children going up and down a slide; however, in the past 10 years, playgrounds have been built for other generations than just kids, i.e. for the elderly.
Playgrounds for the Elderly
Despite being quite a new trend in the US, the original concept is believed to date back to 1995 when China opened up their first senior outdoor recreation area their implementation of a national fitness program.
The idea quickly spread to Japan, Germany, Austria, England, Finland, Spain, Canada, and Scotland, as well as the US.
In Spain, it’s estimated that 40 percent of the population will be 65 or older by the year of 2050; so, it’s no wonder adult playgrounds have become very common there. In Barcelona, there are more than 300 such playgrounds.
How to Senior Playgrounds Look Like?
Rather than flying swings and towering gyms, the playgrounds for seniors include low-impact exercise equipment aimed to better their core strength, flexibility, balance, and well-being.
Similar to a gym, without the fees, you can see stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, and treadmills throughout these playgrounds. This allows improvement of the functional capacities of the elderly and allows them to do more of what’s good for them.
In Carbide Park in La Marque in Texas which opened up in 2014, helping the elderly to better their balance and coordination is pivotal. To achieve this, the city spent $36,000 to install specific equipment like their cobweb floor, low chin-up bars, and stretching board.
Even though there are some parks only for adults, there are also multigenerational playgrounds where there’s the unique chance for grandparents to play with their grandchildren, but still get their needs according to their age.
These gathering places are also beneficial from a social point of view because they give visitors an opportunity to get out of their homes and communicate with their neighbours more.
Taking into account that isolation and loneliness is a common issue among the elderly so these parks are of great aid for their physical well-being and help them socialize more. They meet other people, share memories, and even drink a tea afterwards.
In the US, the non-profit organization KaBOOM! helps in the building of playgrounds for children. They’re purchasing abandoned and isolated parks in cities around the country and transform them.
Until now, they’ve built more than 53 such parks. In one of their Cleveland projects, the elderly created a fitness club to boost interaction in the park while the children are playing.