The composition of the residential environment may have an independent influence on health, especially in older adults. In this cross-sectional study, we examined the associations between proximity to two features of the residential environment (green space and senior service centers) and three aspects of healthy aging (self-rated physical constitution, disability, and health-related quality of life). We included 1711 inhabitants from the city of Augsburg, Germany, aged 65 years or older, who participated in the KORA-Age study conducted in 2008/2009. We calculated the Euclidian distances between each participant’s residential address and the nearest green space or senior service center, using a geographic information system. Multilevel logistic regression models were fitted to analyze the associations, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic factors. Contrary to expectations, we did not find clear associations between the distances to the nearest green space or senior service center and any of the examined aspects of healthy aging. The importance of living close to green space may largely depend on the study location. The city of Augsburg is relatively small (about 267,000 inhabitants) and has a high proportion of greenness. Thus, proximity to green space may not be as important as in a densely populated metropolitan area. Moreover, an objectively defined measure of access such as Euclidian distance may not reflect the actual use. Future studies should try to assess the importance of resources of the residential environment not only objectively, but also from the resident’s perspective.
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The authors would like to thank the Department for Open Space Planning, Nature Conservation and Cemeteries of the city of Augsburg for providing the geocodes of the public green space in Augsburg. Furthermore, we would like to thank the Department for Statistics and Urban Studies of the city of Augsburg for providing data necessary for calculating regional area deprivation, and the Department of Geospatial Data of the city of Augsburg for providing the geocodes of the ‘senior care regions’. In particular, we would like to thank Christin Abel for her support in calculating the distances.
The KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg) research platform, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Technology and the State of Bavaria, was initiated and financed by the Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health. As part of the ‘Health in old age’ program, the KORA-Age Study was financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF FKZ 01ET0713 and 01ET1003A). The KORA-Age study was further funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) (GR 3608/1-1).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Responsible editor: H.W. Wahl.
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Vogt, S., Mielck, A., Berger, U. et al. Neighborhood and healthy aging in a German city: distances to green space and senior service centers and their associations with physical constitution, disability, and health-related quality of life. Eur J Ageing 12, 273–283 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-015-0345-0
- Residential environment
- Green space
- Geographic information system
- Healthy aging