Book Review: Recreating Neighborhoods for Successful Aging
by Sally Shute, Associate ASLA

Book Review
Re-creating Neighborhoods for Successful Aging (Pauline S. Abbott, Nancy Carman, Jack Carman, FASLA, and Bob Scarfo, editors. MD: Health Professions Press, Inc., 2009) is a compilation of cross-disciplinary articles responding in unison to the imminent tidal wave of aging baby boomers. The book is based on the premise that boomers will age differently than any other generation in American history (they will work longer, live longer, have greater means, and be more civically and recreationally engaged), and that plans are not yet in place to accommodate these changes. Drawing from the fields of gerontology, health sciences, community planning, landscape architecture, and environmental design, each author orchestrated his or her part to create a harmonic message that the time is ripe to unite the various professions to transform the landscape of aging.

The book vividly illustrates the history and development of models of care for the elderly from the mid-1700s to the present, with best-practice examples to instill a vision for the future. The context of aging would be incomplete without recognizing the increasing value of technology in both understanding availability and access to services (visible through GPS technology) and in maintaining independence (online services, assistive technologies), which adds a valuable dimension to the discourse. The restorative benefits of nature are summarized based upon research findings, with an eye towards universal design development to accommodate the growing trend of aging in place.

The final chapter, written by Bob Scarfo, gives an insightful analysis of the relationship among current trends in describing what he terms the “perfect storm” of aging, energy, and health challenges. With 78 million baby boomers approaching retirement at the same time that the US faces an obesity epidemic and an energy crisis, he proposes that all three trends should be considered together. He makes a good case for how all three issues could benefit from a similar kind of built environment—one that is high density, pedestrian friendly, mixed use, and multi-generational.

In sum, this book provides an excellent resource for planners, designers, and social service providers for the development of senior-friendly environments, and resources to heed the call for transforming the built environment and services for the elderly.

Sally Shute, Associate ASLA, is the Principal at SAS Enterprises, and can be reached at:

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