The PlaceAge Project consists of three projects funded by the UK’s ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), for a total of £ 1,213,116.00, and CNPQ (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) of Brazil, with the support of scholarships for researchers. United Kingdom, Brazil and India participate of the Project. The projects are also supported by Brazilian research agency FAPERGS (Foundation for the Support of Research in the State of Rio Grande do Sul), and by the Federal University of Pelotas with funding research assistants and research associates.
1. The project that gave rise to PlaceAge is called “Place-Making with Older People: Towards Age Friendly Communities” and focuses on exploring how older adults face ageing in different urban, social and cultural contexts in the UK and Brazil. It is funded in the amount of £ 808,289 by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council). The project started in 2016, with data collection and analysis activities completed in 2019. From 2020 to 2023 the project continues with activities of impact and development of public policies with national and international agencies.
2. The second project is called “Ageing Well in Urban Environments: Developing Age Friendly Cities and Communities”. This initiative has a partnership between the United Kingdom, India and Brazil and is funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) of the United Kingdom and by the ICSSR (Indian Council for Research in Social Sciences) of India. Activities started in 2018 and will be completed in 2021. Financing is £ 404,827 in total.
3. The third Project is called “PlaceAge-COVID”, and studies the experiences of older adults to determine the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on social wellbeing and the impact of measures such as social distance and ‘stay at home’ on health people’s physical and mental health. It is an international partnership between Brazil (Federal University of Pelotas) and Heriot-Watt University (United Kingdom). The activities started in 2021 and will be completed in 2023. More information about the project can be accessed at: https://wp.ufpel.edu.br/agefriendlycities/
These projects are co-led by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, and Sri Venkateswara University in India.
Ageing populations in the UK, Brazil and India have generated new challenges in how to best design urban environments that support and promote everyday social engagement and healthy urban living for older people. As they age older adults face declining physical and cognitive capacities, changes to their living arrangements and loss of social supports. In response to this, the ageing-in-place agenda has become an important issue in redefining policy for older people. The ageing-in-place agenda posits that the preferred environment for older adults to age is in the community, where they can remain active, engaged, socially connected, and independent. However, contemporary urban cities can be ‘unfriendly’ and ‘hostile’ to older adults, acting as a barrier to accessing social, economic and civic opportunities. These research projects recognize that simply changing the built form is not sufficient to create a more inclusive environment for ageing since places are more than physical spaces. Viable environments are articulated through a strong sense of place, defined as the social, psychological and emotional bonds that people have with their environment. A strong sense of place results from having access to supports for active participation, opportunities to build and sustain social networks, and assuming a meaningful role in the community. In contrast a feeling of displacement or ‘placelessness’ is associated with alienation, isolation and loneliness, often resulting in adverse health and well-being outcomes, particularly amongst vulnerable older adults. Societally, the creation of age friendly urban environments that support sense of place is integral to successful ageing ensuring that older adults can continue to make a positive contribution in old age, delaying the need for institutional care and reducing health and social care costs. Through developing a cross-cultural experiential understandings of ageing-in-the-right-place which take into account transformations in both, person and place, the PlaceAge Project recognises the importance for developing age-friendly urban spaces that respond to different environmental, social and political frameworks.