Gerontological Design: How We Can Shape Environments for Optimal Aging 

Empowering older adults to maintain their independence, dignity and quality of life as they age can be challenging. Gerontological design is a subfield of gerontology focused on creating environments, products and services that cater to the needs and preferences of older adults. Sometimes referred to as “design for aging” or “geriatric design,” gerontological design involves applying principles of design, architecture and urban planning to improve the quality of life for aging populations.  

Gerontological design considers the physical, cognitive, sensory and emotional changes that occur as we age, with the aim of creating spaces and products that are accessible, safe, comfortable and supportive for older individuals.  

Gerontological Design Put Into Practice 

Let’s look at some of the ways gerontological design can be used to help people continue to live healthy, fulfilling lives as they age. 

Design environments and products that are easily accessible and navigable for older adults with mobility challenges, such as wheelchair ramps, wide doorways and grab bars. 

Age-Friendly Urban Planning 
Plan neighborhoods and cities with features that accommodate the needs of older adults, such as pedestrian-friendly streets, public transportation options and access to healthcare services. 

Cognitive Support 
Incorporate design elements that support cognitive function, such as clear signage, simple layouts and contrasting colors for improved visibility. 

Create spaces that promote comfort and well-being, including seating with proper support, adjustable lighting and temperature control. 

Implement features to minimize hazards and risks, such as slip-resistant flooring, well-lit areas and ergonomic furniture with rounded edges. 

Social Connection 
Design spaces that foster social interaction and community engagement, such as communal areas for gatherings and activities, and incorporate technology to facilitate communication with family and friends. 

The Growing Need for Gerontological Design  

Data from the World Health Organization shows the global population of individuals aged 60 and above is expected to rise from 1 billion to an astonishing 1.4 billion by 2030 — an increase of 40% in just the next few years. This significant surge in the number of older adults worldwide underscores the dual need for broader gerontological design implementation and healthcare professionals dedicated to supporting older adults through life’s transitions. 

Shape Your Credentials for Optimal Gerontology Career Potential 

UF’s renowned College of Medicine offers two online programs in the growing field of aging. If you wish to enhance your career while more effectively meeting the healthcare requirements of older adults, these programs are tailored to your needs:  

Master of Science in Medical Sciences with a concentration in Innovative Aging Studies (now only 30 credits!)  

  • Finish your degree in as little as one year. 
  • Explore the innovations and trends that inform gerontological design in courses such as Gerontechnology (GMS 6808) and Healthy Aging in the New Millennium (GMS 6717).  

Graduate Certificate in Innovative Aging Studies (15 credits) 

  • Finish your certificate in as little as one year. 
  • Apply all 15 credits toward our MS in gerontology in the future, if eligible. 

Want to know more about our online UF gerontology programs? Consider these benefits: 

  • Apply with no GRE or clinical experience required. 
  • Enjoy competitive tuition rates. 
  • Complete your program at your own pace from any location in the world. 
  • Use either credential toward a variety of rewarding careers or health-profession school. 

Get a more complete picture of our online graduate programs in aging now.