A public health perspective to environmental barriers and accessibility problems for senior citizens living in ordinary housing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Housing environments that hinder performance of daily activities and impede participation in social life have negative health consequences particularly for the older segment of the population. From a public health perspective accessible housing that supports active and healthy ageing is therefore crucial. The objective of the present study was to make an inventory of environmental barriers and investigate accessibility problems in the ordinary housing stock in Sweden as related to the functional capacity of senior citizens. Particular attention was paid to differences between housing types and building periods and to identify environmental barriers generating the most accessibility problems for sub-groups of senior citizens. Methods: Data on environmental barriers in dwellings from three databases on housing and health in old age was analysed (N = 1021). Four functional profiles representing large groups of senior citizens were used in analyses of the magnitude and severity of potential accessibility problems. Differences in terms of type of housing and building period were examined. Results: High proportions of one-family houses as well as multi-dwellings had substantial numbers of environmental barriers, with significantly lower numbers in later building periods. Accessibility problems occurred already for senior citizens with few functional limitations, but more profound for those dependent on mobility devices. The most problematic housing sections were entrances in one-family houses and kitchens of multi-dwellings. Conclusions: Despite a high housing standard in the Swedish ordinary housing stock the results show substantial accessibility problems for senior citizens with functional limitations. To make housing accessible large-scale and systematic efforts are required.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Gerontology, specializing in Medical and Health Sciences


  • Ageing population, Ageing-in-place, Built environment, Functional capacity, Health, Policy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch

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