Many cities already have policies in place to green them up in order to protect ground water resources or keep areas cooler or even to increase the time people spend shopping at their stores. Those findings may help cities that are already looking for ways and reasons to invest in green spaces to have more reasons to do so. We know that providing people with green spaces and walking paths creates a bit of “if you build it they will come” mentality but these researchers are directly tying in the investment in access to open spaces to the healthiness of its citizens. The researchers found that diabetes rates dropped as green space increased so that individuals living in spaces with 40 percent or more green space had 8 percent of their population with diabetes whereas those neighborhoods with 20 percent or less green space had diabetes rates of 9.1 percent. Those areas with more green space also had a lower prevalence of high-fat diets, fewer smokers and higher rates of individuals eating five or more fruits and vegetables a day.
Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zones talks about how communities and individuals can add years and health to your life in this video from United Health Care. Buettner studied places where people lived the longest and how they achieved that. He argues that medications, exercise and supplements are resources that we don’t use and don’t work because we don’t stick with them. According to Buettner, if you want to change the long term health of people you must change an entire system and that begins with the policies of the places we live.
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where we live shapes our behaviors and influences our health. In a health brief from September 2008, researchers found that the physical, social and service environments of neighborhoods can either promote health or put it in jeopardy regardless of your own socioeconomic condition. “Living in a poor neighborhood can be bad for your health, even if you are not poor,” the report says.
All this is to say that where you choose to live and indeed where you choose to die are important considerations that may mean the difference between having diabetes and not having diabetes, having heart problems and not having heart problems. Where you live can be the determining factor as to whether or not you can safely get around in your neighborhood or if you have to rely on erratic transportation options. A lot of people fight a move to a senior living facility only to discover that they are vastly healthier, participate in more activities and enjoy life more once they’ve made the move because senior living facilities make it easy to get good food, socialize and see the doctor. That’s not to say that you can’t have those things in your own home and in your current neighborhood. It’s that those things are built into senior living environments and if they are not built into your neighborhood’s environment you either need to find a new neighborhood or you need to work at getting those things in your neighborhood while you have the energy and time to push it in the right direction.
It really does matter where you live because that will determine how you die and indeed when you die. Because those things will impact you financially and legally elder law attorneys like Rajiv Nagaich care about your housing and whether or not your neighborhood is safe and walkable. If you are concerned about your current housing, why not contact one of our housing experts on our Preferred Providers list? Not only do they have the expertise to know whether or not your current housing situation is safe for someone wanting to age in place but they can make suggestions to help you either stay in your current housing or find something more appropriate for aging in place.