If you are designing a sub-division, you should pay attention to elements that promote walking, bicycling and accessing public busses or trains. Those features help to attract more people to your sub-division, and they also help to ensure the long-term sustainability of your sub-division. If want want to attract elders to your community, however, you also need to ensure these areas work for them.

When designing walking paths and other common outdoor areas in your sub-division, here are five elements you need to make these areas more accessible to elders:

1. Rest areas

Elders with mobility issues may need to use walkers, wheelchairs or canes as they move through your sub-division, which can get tiring. When designing footpaths, make sure there are areas where elders can stop and rest.

That could be anything from large shoulders that allow elders to rest for a few seconds as other pedestrians easily pass them, or it could be large grassy areas placed periodically along footpaths.

2. Seating

In addition to creating areas to stand and rest, you should also consider the need for seating. Benches or concrete seats along planters should be integrated along your footpaths, near playgrounds, around community gardens and in any other places you think are appropriate.

In addition to offering rest and respite to elders, benches help to create a communal atmosphere. Parents can sit and chat as children play, neighbours can linger in serendipitous conversations and telecommuters can sit down and catch up on emails while enjoying the nice weather.

3. Lighting

While lighting in common green spaces and along footpaths helps everybody, it can be especially useful to elders who suffer from vision impairments such as cataracts. Lighting options vary, and they can include anything from standard street lamps to solar powered lighting built beneath paths.

4. Toilets

A number of health problems that are relatively common among elders can cause them to need to use the toilets relatively frequently. When designing sub-divisions, you don't necessarily just want to think about shared outdoor spaces, you also need to think about common or shared indoor spaces, and that includes public toilets near park areas as well as clubhouses, pools and other amenities.

If you have a maintenance crew that can clean and service them, public toilets (near community gardens, along long footpaths or near park areas) make your sub-division more hospital for elders (as well as for toilet-training toddlers).

5. Maps

In addition to the above features, maps can be helpful. Large built-in displays can show all of the paths, areas and house numbers in your sub-division, and these maps can also show where the viewer is now. For elders with cognitive issues due to strokes or dementia, maps can be an invaluable resource. They also help visitors to your sub-division.