Aging Playfully is the first research project to examine older adult play and the built environment.

The project is led by the Director of the Population and Place Research Lab, Dr. Maxwell Hartt and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Queen’s University.

Why Play?

One way to support older adults and to create a truly age-friendly society is through one of human nature’s simplest and most universal behaviours: play. Within the urban planning and design context, play infrastructure can be thought of as additions to the urban form that provide an alternative to conventional use by inspiring happiness and playful interaction. Public, playful space is a product of human intent and invention and a vital component in the theatre of play.

Play improves physical health.

Play improves mental health.

Play strengthens social cohesion and increases sense of belonging.

Why Older Adults?

Older adults are especially susceptible to loneliness as they are more likely than any other age group to live alone, be widowed, not participate in the workforce, and have smaller social networks. As people age, their social, cognitive, and physical worlds tend to shrink.

And as life spaces grow smaller, the immediate neighbourhood and local built environment play increasingly important roles in facilitating or impeding social isolation and loneliness.

Loneliness is more harmful to health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

  • The increased social isolation and loneliness associated with the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbates the issue.
  • The combination of a rapidly aging population and an overwhelmingly detached, car-dependent built environment is also problematic.
  • Without timely and targeted intervention, older adult loneliness will increase, bringing with it depression, poor cardiovascular health, reduced cognitive function, and even premature mortality.

Click here to learn more about the Aging Playfully project.