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dc.contributor.authorShealy, Elizabeth Carlisleen
dc.date.accessioned2021-04-03T08:00:39Zen
dc.date.available2021-04-03T08:00:39Zen
dc.date.issued2021-04-02en
dc.identifier.othervt_gsexam:29411en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10919/102931en
dc.description.abstractAssociations between the built environment and walking are well understood among the general population, but far less is known about how features of the built environment influence walking in older adults. As compared to other age groups, older adults, defined as those 65 years of age and older, are more likely to experience declines in physical activity, social interaction, and loss of community connectivity. Animal companionship can provide older adults the motivation to stay physically active and help them mitigate the feelings of isolation. Built environments that align with the needs and abilities of older adults and their animal companions, like dogs, can encourage and help sustain walking habits. The aim of this study was to identify and prioritize features within the built environment pertinent to older adult dog walkers. Existing literature served as the basis for identifying neighborhood design features associated with general walking and dog walking. Through the use of a three round Delphi study, 25 experts from urban planning and design, management of outdoor spaces, public health, gerontology, and human-animal relationships modified and rated the importance of the identified features as it pertains to older adult dog walkers. Following the Delphi study, 12 older adult dog owners from the Warm Hearth Village participated in a guided walk and interview using the Photovoice technique. The goal was to gather their perceptions of the outdoor walking environment. Among expert panelists, safety from motorized traffic, crime, unleashed dogs, and personal injury was paramount (mean (M)= 93.20, standard deviation (SD) = 11.54). Experts also saw the value and agreed upon the importance of dog supportive features within the built environment, like dog waste stations dog waste stations (desirable; M = 87.95, SD = 11.37), and dog policy signage (desirable; M = 79.91, SD = 11.22). Older adults also believed safety was important. They saw their dog as a protective safety factor against walking deterrents like aggressive or unleashed dogs. However, the feature that resonated most with older adult dog walkers in this study was their interaction with nature. They described the pleasure of observing seasons change and the connection with nature that came from the tree canopy cocooning the walking path. Path design is also a necessary consideration. Older adults emphasized the importance of having options between paved and unpaved walking paths. The panelists stressed the need for creating lines of sight (desirable; M = 66.46, SD = 20.71) and lighting (desirable; M = 77.92, SD =19.77). Those who plan, develop, and maintain spaces that support older adults can prioritize the features I identified in my research. Incorporating these features into the design of spaces for older adults has the potential to translate into increased walking and opportunities to socialize, contributing to mental and physical health.en
dc.format.mediumETDen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.rights.urihttp://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/en
dc.subjectbuilt environmenten
dc.subjectoutdoor spacesen
dc.subjectfeaturesen
dc.subjectolder adultsen
dc.subjectdog walkingen
dc.titleDesigning outdoor spaces to support older adult dog walkers: A multi-method approach to identify and prioritize features in the built environmenten
dc.typeDissertationen
dc.contributor.departmentMyers-Lawson School of Constructionen
dc.description.degreeDoctor of Philosophyen
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophyen
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen
thesis.degree.grantorVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen
thesis.degree.disciplineEnvironmental Design and Planningen
dc.contributor.committeechairPearce, Annie R.en
dc.contributor.committeememberTeaster, Pamela B.en
dc.contributor.committeememberSkuzinski, Thomas Stefanen
dc.contributor.committeememberBuechner-Maxwell, Virginia A.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralAssociations between the built environment and walking are well understood among the general population, but less is known about how features in the built environment influence older adults. As compared to other age groups, older adults are more likely to experience declines in physical activity and social interaction. Animal companionship can provide motivation to stay physically active and help them mitigate feelings of isolation. Built environments that align with the needs of older adults and their animal companions, like dogs, can encourage and help sustain walking habits. My research identified and prioritized features within the built environment pertinent to older adult dog walkers. I implemented an iterative three round study to gain consensus among expert panelists and guided walks and interviews with older adult dog walkers. Among expert panelists, safety from motorized traffic, crime, unleashed dogs, and personal injury was paramount. Experts also saw the value of dog supportive features within the built environment, like dog waste stations. Older adults also believed safety was important. They saw their dog as a protective safety factor against walking deterrents like aggressive dogs. The feature that resonated most with older adult in this study was nature. They described the pleasure of observing seasons change and the connection with nature that came from the tree canopy cocooning the walking path. Path design is also a necessary consideration. Older adults emphasized the importance of having options between paved and unpaved walking paths. Those who plan, develop, and maintain spaces that support older adults can prioritize the features I identified in my research. Incorporating these features into outdoor spaces has the potential to translate into increased walking and opportunities to socialize, contributing to mental and physical health.en


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