Aging and the City


This guide provides selected print and electronic resources on aging and the city.
This multidisciplinary topic includes: mobility; transportation; housing; social and built environments; and aging in place.

If you need help, please contact Nina Smart, Liaison Librarian, at 778.782.5043 (Tuesdays and Thursdays) (Monday to Thursday) at Belzberg Library, or Book a research appointment. See also Ask a librarian if Nina is not available or if you have a general question.

Summer 2023: Walkability is a big topic this year, so search for the word on this page.

SFU projects, theses, and dissertations

Search SUMMIT or the Library Catalogue for past research projects completed by students. Relevant projects can be found in Urban Studies, Gerontology, and other disciplines. Here is a sample search in the Catalogue:


  • (age-friendly OR aging OR senior) AND (urban OR city OR metro*) AND ("Simon Fraser University")
  • Resource Type: Dissertations/ Theses  [limit]

Here are a few examples of relevant projects:

  • Mobility scooter use for community access : An exploration of individual and environmental factors on use and safety [online]
  • Ticket to Ride: Reducing social isolation for seniors through better access to public transportation  [online]
  • The role of the socio-physical environment on aging in place for older adults in cohousing and naturally occurring retirement communities [online]
  • The well-being of low-income, monolingual-Chinese senior residents: The impact of disinvestment and gentrification in Vancouver’s Chinatown  [online]
  • How innovative city planning can aid healthy aging in place: Evaluating the success of the Comox-Helmcken Greenway under the aspect of age-friendly community planning [online]
  • Walkability and connectivity: unpacking measures of the built environment  here. [Dept of Geography, not specifically about older adults, but a) GIS and b) Vancouver
  • Exploring the social meaning of aging and of neighbourhood programs and facilities for older residents : Ethnographic accounts from Vancouver[online]
  • How does neighbourhood environment affect physical activity in later life? : An exploratory case study of two North Vancouver neighbourhoods [online]
  • For more titles see: Gerontology projects - Environmental - aging and the built environment
NOTE: For more search tips, visit Finding SFU Theses and Projects.

Finding books and journal articles


Routledge Handbook of Mobilities (online) See Chapter 38: Elders, which includes a bibliography

When searching the Catalogue, subject headings on aging and the city can be specific, such as Older people -- Transportation or broader , such as Aging -- Canada or Quality of life -- Canada. However, many of the subject headings will not retrieve materials that cover both concepts: Aging and City.

Instead, use keywords to retrieve more relevant results. Suggested keywords to combine include:

• "Age-friendly communities" ; "Dementia-friendly communities"
• Age-friendly AND (Mobility OR transit OR transportation)
• (Age-friendly OR aging OR senior OR “older people” ) AND (urban OR city OR metro*)


Journal article and other databases

Major social science and gerontology database. Sample subject terms: (Urban OR Municipalities); Pedestrians (for walkability).  
Sample keywords: NORC; Age-Friendly Communities

Physical and human geography database. Sample controlled term search: (Aging OR Elderly) AND (Cities OR Urban)
Sample keyword search: walkab* and (aging OR elderly)

The major transportation database

Sample Thesaurus (subject) terms: Walkability ; Aged ; Built enviionment ; Mobility ; Cities

Global Health



ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Abstracts and Index
Find theses and dissertations from SFU and other institutions from around the world

Please request an interlibrary loan to request access to a specific article, book, image, or other material not held by SFU.



AGE-WELL: Canada’s technology and aging network
Canada’s technology and aging network partners with universities, as well as with research centres across Canada. AGE-WELL is a partner of the Science and Technology for Aging Research (STAR) Institute at SFU.

Active Aging 
Evidence-based initiative that aims to enhance the health, mobility and social connectedness of older adults in British Columbia through physical activity and falls and falls-related injury prevention.

BC211 (aka The Red Book) "community, government and social services in BC". Search on Older Adults and Community of neighbourhood.  Seniors’ One Stop Information is the North Shore equivalent

Alzheimer Society Canada
Background information on Canada's National dementia strategy and National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias Act.

CARP (previously the Canadian Association for Retired Persons) 
Not-for-profit organization, which has resources on age friendly cities and dementia care.

Inclusion BC
Provincial federation whose members include people with intellectual disabilities, families and community agencies. See social policy position: Aging in place policy.

Office of the Seniors Advocate (BC)
Monitors and analyzes seniors’ services and issues in B.C., and makes recommendations to government and service providers to address systemic issues. Website offers guides, reports and publications on senior care in BC.

STAR Seniors Transportation Access and Resources
Program run by Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST), a non-profit organization for sustainable transportation. Website offers resources on policy and advocacy on seniors' transportation, as well as a bibliography of local and international research.

Vertical Aging "The Future of Aging in Place in Urban Canada" by Openlab

Vieillir au Québec
(Université de Montréal) "à mettre en place des environnements favorables au vieillissement actif de leur population âgée" Includes MAPPA  tool (Marchabilité Pour les Personnes Âgées)


AGE Platform Europe
European network of non-profit organizations of and for people aged 50+. See News/Publications for publications and videos.

Global Database of Age-friendly Practices (WHO)
A global database of age-friendly programs and practices. Can filter results by city or population size.

HelpAge International 
Global network of organizations promoting the right of all older people to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives. Find publications on ageing, as well as resources specific to ageing cities and data on ageing from the Global Age Watch Index.

Livable Communities (AARP)
"Supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and rural areas to be great places for people of all ages. "

Age-friendly World  (WHO)
Co-produced with members and Affiliates of the Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities. See Resource Library for news, guides, publications, and videos on age-friendly communities. Sample reports: Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide ;  Checklist of Essential Features of Age-friendly Cities

Plans for age-friendly and dementia-friendly communities

Local, provincial, and municipal initiatives on age-friendly communities can be found by searching Google or on the municipality's official website, with keywords such as age-friendly, seniors, or planning.  Some examples:

Age-friendly communities:

Dementia-friendly communities:

Naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs):

What Is NORC Blueprint? (New York State)

NORCs entry in The encyclopedia of elder care : the comprehensive resource on geriatric health and social care

Chapter 6 NORCs: Retiring Naturally in  With a little help from our friends : creating community as we grow older


SFU research and researchers


Visit each researcher's profile to learn about their research interests and activities:

Department of Gerontology: Habib Chaudhury | Atiya Mahmood
rban Studies Associate: Meghan Winters
The City Program - Continuing Studies: Andy Yan

Current learning opportunities  and research at SFU

The City Program
SFU Continuing Studies program, which focuses on understanding the city and how citizens can participate in shaping its future. The program covers a diverse range of topics on urban issues, including aging and the city, and offers free public lectures and events.

Workers in the aging city: Eldercare labor markets in Vancouver and Shanghai 
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded project led by Feng Xu (Political Science, University of Victoria) and Kendra Strauss (Labour Studies, Simon Fraser University). 

STAR Institute (Science and Technology for Aging Research)
STAR supports the development and implementation of technologies to address many of the health challenges encountered in old age, as well as address the social, commercial and policy aspects of using and accessing technologies. See News, Reports and Publications, and Events and Opportunities.

There are opportunities to study aging in the city in both the Department of Gerontology and the Urban Studies program at SFU.

See also: Urban Transportation
Back to: Gerontology, Urban Studies