Community Environments That Promote Intergenerational Interactions vs. Walking Among Older Adults. Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: Intergenerational interactions and walking are two of the most beneficial forms of activities for older adults. As older adults spend most of their time at or near home, the characteristics of the proximate residential environments are particularly important for supporting those activities. This study aims to (1) explore places used for various social interactions older adults engage in, (2) examine specific neighborhood environmental features associated with intergenerational interactions, and (3) compare similarities and differences in environmental correlates of intergenerational interactions vs. walking. Methods: This cross-sectional study analyzed self-reported survey data from 455 community-dwelling adults aged 65+ from Austin, Texas, as well as Geographic Information System (GIS) measures capturing the neighborhood environment around each participant's home. Descriptive statistics were used for Aim 1. Multivariable binary logistic models were used for Aims 2 and 3, to identify environmental variables predicting the odds of participating in intergenerational interactions (with children 1+ times/week, and with children, teenagers, or adults 1+ times/week) in one's neighborhood, as well as walking 1+ times/week for transportation or recreation purposes. Results: Participants had a mean age of 73 years, and were primarily female (72.1%) and non-Hispanic white (72.8%). Older adults interacted frequently with adults (79.2%, 1+ times/week) and other older adults (66.9%) in their neighborhood, while less frequently with children (28.0%) and teenagers (21.9%). Recreational walking (73.3%, 1+ times/week) was more popular for older adults than transportation walking (43.8%). Multivariable analyses showed that neighborhood perceptions, transportation infrastructure, land uses, land covers, population densities, development activities, and composite scores were significant predictors of intergenerational activities. Both similarities and differences were found in terms of the neighborhood environmental factors associated with intergenerational interactions vs. walking although differences were more evident in the domains of land covers, development activities, and composite scores. Conclusions: Given the significant health benefits, promoting intergenerational interactions and walking among older adults should be a national/global responsibility. Further work is needed to improve our understanding of the specific social and physical environmental facilitators as well as barriers to creating intergenerational communities that can support healthy living of all generations.

published proceedings

  • Front Public Health

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhong, S., Lee, C., & Lee, H.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Zhong, Sinan||Lee, Chanam||Lee, Hanwool

publication date

  • January 2020