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Access to outdoor recreation by older people in Scotland

Author(s)

COLLEY Kathryn, et al

Publisher(s):

The James Hutton Institute

Scottish research study to examine the barriers preventing older people, including older people with long-term health conditions and disabilities, from accessing outdoor recreation opportunities. The research involved two stages: an investigation of the spatial distribution of older people using small-scale geographical units and semi-structured interviews with 27 older people across three case study sites of varying levels of urbanity and access to different types of green/blue natural resources. Results from the spatial distribution analysis found that remote areas and isolated small towns had higher concentrations of older people and older people with health problems or disabilities. It also identifies that the negative impacts on the well-being and resilience of local communities are also likely to be stronger in remote areas, with challenges in accessing medical and care facilities. The case study work found the barriers to participation in outdoor recreation by older people are multiple and inter-related. Key categories of barriers identified in the interviews were: poor health and (im)mobility; lack of or reduced social connections; fragility and vulnerability; lack of motivation and time commitments; safety; and weather and season. Key implications for policy and practice identified from the research include: for interventions to address the multiple and interrelated barriers preventing older people from participating in outdoor recreation, using integrated and holistic approaches involving different organisations; for ‘green prescribing’ by doctors and medical professionals to be integrated with existing initiatives (eg walking groups) which offer opportunities for overcoming social and motivational barriers; and for interventions to identify ways of providing transport access to outdoor spaces to older people. (Edited publisher abstract)

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