Special Issue "Friendly Residential Environments for Ageing in Place with Autonomy and Independence"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Care Sciences & Services".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 28 October 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Fermina Rojo-Pérez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Research Group on Ageing (GIE-CSIC), 28037 Madrid, Spain
Interests: ageing; age-friendly settings; active/healthy ageing; quality of life; wellbeing; residential environments; health emergencies.
Dr. Gloria Fernández-Mayoralas
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Research Group on Ageing (GIE-CSIC), 28037 Madrid, Spain
Interests: ageing; active/healthy ageing; health conditions; physical and social environments; gender roles and intersectionality; quality of life; wellbeing
Dr. Diego Sánchez-González
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Geography, National Distance Education University (UNED), 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: ageing; environmental gerontology; age-friendly environments; residential environments; active and healthy ageing; quality of life; dependence; disability; social services; health emergencies; social vulnerability; climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The issue will focus on theoretical and applied subjects about residential environments and their connections with personal and contextual factors, quality of life, and wellbeing as people age. Conceptual approaches, literature reviews, and methodological studies deserve a special mention, as well as the incorporation of new technologies, the management of health emergencies (COVID-19 pandemic), and climatic risks, which are of valuable interest to better understand the environmental dimensions of aging at home/in place. From multidisciplinary epigenetic approaches and environmental gerontology, studies on implications of the aging environments on therapeutic strategies will be accepted.

We have been invited to organize a Special Issue on Friendly Residential Environments for Aging in Place with Autonomy and Independence in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.849 in 2019). More detailed information can be found in the journal site https://0-www-mdpi-com.brum.beds.ac.uk/journal/ijerph.

Under the Aging in Place (AIP) paradigm, older people report their preference for aging in their usual environments, distinguishing between various geographic scales: micro (dwelling), meso (community and neighborhood of residence) and macro (support services). However, the unadaptability of environments to the changing needs of older residents could have adverse effects on their health and living conditions. In this sense, the Age-Friendly Cities and Communities program is designed to engage communities to be adapted to address the environmental and social factors that contribute, from a theoretical or applied perspective, to active and healthy aging and, consequently, to well-being and quality of life as people age.

This Special Issue will welcome contributions related to the residential environment of older people, their characteristics, and its influence on autonomy, independence, and quality of life in the aging process, such as studies connected with aging in place, age-friendly cities and communities, active and healthy aging, residential contexts (housing, long-term care settings, cohousing), residential social networks, residential services, and related topics, for older adults both with and without dementia. Theoretical approaches, literature reviews, and methodological studies deserve a special mention, as well as the application of quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods, or the incorporation of new technologies to better understand the environmental dimensions of aging at home. In addition, new studies on the therapeutic importance of environments in aging are accepted, from the multidisciplinary approaches of epigenetic and environmental gerontology. Precisely, some of the responses to health emergencies (COVID-19 pandemic) and climate hazards (floods, heat waves) will come from a better understanding within aging environments.

Dr. Fermina Rojo-Pérez
Dr. Gloria Fernández-Mayoralas
Dr. Diego Sánchez-González
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • age-friendly communities
  • residential environments
  • built environment
  • aging in place
  • active aging
  • healthy aging
  • housing
  • long-term care settings
  • cohousing
  • quality of life
  • therapeutic environments
  • health emergencies
  • climate change
  • public health
  • epigenetic
  • environmental gerontology

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Investigating the Association between Outdoor Environment and Outdoor Activities for Seniors Living in Old Residential Communities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7500; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18147500 - 14 Jul 2021
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Many seniors live in old residential communities (ORCs) with low-quality outdoor environment (OE), which hinders the residents’ outdoor daily activities (ODAs). This paper empirically investigates the association of OE on ODAs for seniors living in ORCs. A questionnaire was designed and distributed in [...] Read more.
Many seniors live in old residential communities (ORCs) with low-quality outdoor environment (OE), which hinders the residents’ outdoor daily activities (ODAs). This paper empirically investigates the association of OE on ODAs for seniors living in ORCs. A questionnaire was designed and distributed in six central districts of Nanjing city. A total of 258 questionnaires was finally collected, of which 60.08%, 29.46%, 9.69%, and 0.78% respondents were scattered into four age groups (61–69, 70–79, 80–89, and ≥90), respectively. Based on reliability analysis, correlation analysis, and regression analysis, the results show that: (1) social activities are mainly associated with noise; (2) leisure activities are significantly associated with road accessibility, slip-resistance measures, greenery, and staff; (3) utilitarian-type activities are significantly associated with stairway accessibility, slip-resistance measures, greenery, and seating; (4) there is a significant association between nature-exposure activities and layout, greenery, and poor air quality. The findings could guide Chinese officials when renewing ORCs by addressing the most important outdoor environmental factors associated with ODAs. Full article
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The Importance of Age-Friendly City on Older People’s Continuity and Life Satisfaction
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7252; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18147252 - 06 Jul 2021
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According to continuity theory, successful aging is promoted when older people are able to continue familiar activities as a way to maintain self-identity. The purpose of this study was to examine the importance of both external resources provided by Taipei city and older [...] Read more.
According to continuity theory, successful aging is promoted when older people are able to continue familiar activities as a way to maintain self-identity. The purpose of this study was to examine the importance of both external resources provided by Taipei city and older adults’ internal resources in internal and external continuity and life satisfaction. The data were from the 2019 Taipei City Senior Citizen Condition Survey acquired through face-to-face interviews. Only the community-based sample without disability was included in the analysis (n = 1494). Structural equation modeling was used for the analysis. Both internal and external resources significantly promoted internal continuity (physical activity, Internet use, and lifelong learning) and external continuity (work, social connectedness, and social participation), and the effects of personal resources were larger. External continuity was positively related to life satisfaction. The effects of external resources on continuity and life satisfaction were stronger in older women than in older men. Age-friendly cities may provide support for activity continuity and promote well-being for older people. Policy suggestions are discussed. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Access to Urban Environments by Older Adults with Severe Disabilities: How do Obstacles Associate with the Need for Help to Move in the City of Buenos Aires?
Authors: Maria-Eugenia Prieto-Flores 1; Mark W. Rosenberg 2
Affiliation: 1. National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), Institute of Geography, National University of La Pampa, Santa Rosa, Argentina. [email protected] / [email protected]; 2. Department of Geography and Planning, Queen’s University, Kinsgton, Ontario, Canada. [email protected]
Abstract: A growing body of research has shown that barriers in the urban environment can be disabling by reducing the ability of older people to manage independently in the community, but also because they can negatively affect health by limiting the possibilities to do activities outside the home. In this study we ask how obstacles in the urban environment are associated with the need for help to go to places in the community. To respond to this question, we used the Annual Household Survey of the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, which in 2018 had a specific questionnaire for people with severe disabilities. From that sample, we selected those adults aged 65 years or older (n = 513). First, we conducted a principal component analysis to group intercorrelated variables of obstacles to access to and use of the urban environment, identifying three factors: transportation, information, and outdoor spaces. Second, through a logistic regression model we observed a direct relationship between these factors and the need for help to go to places in the community, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, health status and number of disabilities. These results provide evidence of the need to improve urban spaces to reduce dependency in moving, doing activities and participating in the community. In the Latin American context, cities face significant challenges in becoming more age-friendly.

Title: Failures in Prevention and Control of SARS-Cov-2 in Nursing Homes of Madrid after the First Wave of the Pandemic
Authors: Vicente Rodriguez Rodríguez 1; Maria Victoria Zunzunegui 2
Affiliation: 1. Institute of Economics, Geography and Demography, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), 28006 Madrid, Spain; 2. School of Public Health, University of Montréal, H3T 1J4 Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Abstract: Background: It has been estimated that almost 6,000 older adults died during March and April 2020 in Madrid nursing homes, many of them excluded from hospital care by the government of the Region of Madrid. The epidemiology of the COVID pandemic in these nursing homes after that has received less attention in spite of evidence of lack of epidemic preparedness. Objective: The aim of this paper is to examine incidence and mortality in the 473 nursing homes of Madrid, to describe the main outbreaks and to identify main potential prevention and control errors that should be avoided in future epidemics. Methods: COVID-19 incidence data are available from the Ministry of Social Policy of the Region of Madrid. The number of COVID-19 active infection cases in the 473 licensed nursing homes is provided from August 2020 through February 2021 among residents and staff in four occupational categories. Geographical distribution and frequency of outbreaks and their average size and duration will be estimated throughout those seven months. Associations between outbreak occurrence and nursing home size and average IgG seroprevalence will be examined. All-cause mortality and COVID-19 confirmed mortality for the study period will be available from two sources: 1) Hospital discharge minimum data files at the Ministry of Health of Spain covering all hospitals in Madrid and 2) All deaths and COVID-19-confirmed deaths registered at the Region of Madrid Ministry of Social Policy database on licensed nursing homes covering the study period, which includes all deaths occurring at the nursing home and at the hospital. Prevention and control measurements will be identified from official protocols published by the Ministry of Social Policy of Madrid. Anticipated results. The epidemic curve at nursing homes in Madrid has followed closely the community epidemic waves with very frequent and large outbreaks and high in-hospital mortality throughout the study period. Nursing home size is a strong determinant of the probability of outbreaks, controlling for IgG prevalence. Conclusion: High COVID-19 incidence and mortality and all-cause mortality in Madrid nursing homes throughout the study period could be proof of the failures to prevent and control the spread of SARS-Cov-2 in the nursing homes of Madrid after the first wave of the pandemic. Implementation of evidence-based measurements to increase epidemic preparedness will be discussed.

Title: Social Networks at the Residential Environment and Loneliness in Old Age. A Different Role by Gender?
Authors: Dolores Puga 1; Celia Fernández-Carro 2; Roberto González 1
Affiliation: 1. Institute of Economy, Geography and Demography (IEGD), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), c/ Albasanz 26-28, 28037, Madrid (Spain);
2. Department of Sociology III, Faculty of Political Science and Sociology, UNED, c/Obispo Trejo 2, 28040 Madrid (Spain)
Abstract: Background: The neighbourhood have a physical but also a relational dimension. In this sense, the neighbourhood gains relevance in old age, compared to other relational environments, favouring or limiting the ability to maintain activities and relationships. Geographical proximity to the members of the social networks (SN) has been identified as a key factor to prevent threats to older people well-being as loneliness. Literature has shown that at other ages friends or organized activities are more relevant in their relationship with loneliness. However, in old age, the nearby links become more important, with neighbours being very relevant. Proximate interpersonal networks, with family, but also with neighbours and friends, can help to deal with an accumulation of losses occurred in the advanced life course (the loss of a partner, friends, health and autonomy …). In fact, previous results have shown that proximity networks are very relevant mitigating the effect of mobility problems on loneliness. Other authors have shown that a live space that favours friend-oriented networks can cushion the effect of the empty nest or the loss of a partner. However, the actual generations of old men have fewer links with people located nearby, as well as very different life trajectories, than actual generations of old women, so these effects can vary by gender. Aim: In this paper we analyse the relationship between nearby social networks and loneliness at advanced ages. We wonder if the geographical proximity of social networks plays a mitigating effect on loneliness, especially in relation to health problems and family losses, and if this effect is different between men and women. Method: Data from Waves 6 and 8 of the European Health, Aging and Retirement Survey (SHARE) were used for this analysis. Loneliness was measured in both waves using the Three-Item Loneliness Scale. This scale is a short version of the R-UCLA Loneliness Scale. SHARE Waves 6 and 8 also included a special module focused on social networks, in which respondents provided information about various characteristics of their social ties including geographical proximity. Anticipated results: A dense nearby network is a mitigating factor against some frequent transitions in old age and their effects in terms of loneliness. Having a dense social network nearby facilitates social participation despite increasing mobility difficulties. Having closer networks also softens the effect of the lack of a partner on the perception of social isolation. Older women usually have dense nearby social networks. Our results suggest that the geographical proximity of SN plays a stronger role among the male population, whose emotional wellbeing at advanced ages relies more heavily on family ties.

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