Bob Scarfo, associate professor

SPOKANE – As that significant chunk of the population, the baby boomers, reaches retirement age, they’re finding themselves living in suburbs designed for convenient driving, but not for healthy aging. Ironically, technology much younger than boomers or their neighborhoods — geographic information systems (GIS) — is proving a useful tool for making their surroundings more friendly to aging citizens.

An article on this application of GIS — co-authored by associate professors Bob Scarfo and Kerry Brooks of the Interdisciplinary Design Institute at WSU Spokane — is just one in a book of essays, co-edited by Scarfo and published earlier this year, that addresses the effects of the built environment on aging.
The anthology, “Re-Creating Neighborhoods for Successful Aging,” is imbued with the understanding that results when academics and professionals apply their different areas of expertise to a problem.
“Greater collaboration among health and built environment practitioners will promote increased opportunities for people of all ages to actively engage in their communities, expand their creativity and develop spiritually,” Scarfo said.
Such interdisciplinary efforts exemplify WSU Spokane’s “team care” approach to health care and service. The book also highlights best-practices based on the latest research.
Articles approach aging from a host of angles, including gerontology, health sciences, community planning, landscape architecture and environmental design. Essays address horticultural therapy, historical approaches to long-term care, different models for retirement communities, the challenges posed by suburbs, and the opportunities a collaborative approach offers.
The result is a valuable resource for urban planners, policy makers, public health professionals and families, among others.
Find more information on “Re-Creating Neighborhoods” online at