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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 324624, 8 pages
Review Article

Universal Design: A Step toward Successful Aging

1Department of Kinesiology, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Avenue, Windsor, ON, Canada N9B 3P4
2Dory Azar Architect, 870 Revland Drive, Tecumseh, ON, Canada N8N 5B2

Received 27 September 2012; Revised 7 December 2012; Accepted 11 December 2012

Academic Editor: Ioannis Trougakos

Copyright © 2013 Kelly Carr et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The concept of aging successfully has become increasingly important as demographics shift towards an aging population. Successful aging has been defined to include (1) a low probability of disease and disease-related disability; (2) a high level of physical and cognitive functioning; and (3) an active engagement in life. The built environment can create opportunities or constraints for seniors to participate in social and productive activities. Universally designed spaces are more easily accessed and used by a spectrum of people without specialized adaptations. Thus, a universally designed environment creates opportunities for older adults to participate in these activities without the stigmatization associated with adapted or accessible designs. Providing older adults with specific universal design options (e.g., lever handle faucets) has the potential to increase the ease of completing activities of daily living, which promotes a continual engagement in life. Literature regarding universal design is promising; however, its theory requires further attention from professionals designing the built environment, evidence of the significance of its application from academics, and the embracement of its core principles from society. Overall, universal design has the potential to provide a stepping stone toward successful aging.