The world is facing the challenge of aging populations. Urban natural environments, including green spaces and blue spaces, have been demonstrated to have great benefits to the mental restoration of the elderly. However, the study of the specific characteristics of urban environments that are popular and the most restorative for the elderly is still lacking. Photo elicitation as visual stimuli was utilized to explore the differences in preference and psychological restoration of the elderly through the perception of the eight perceived sensory dimensions (PSDs) in different types of urban environments. The results showed that: (1) The respondents had different perceptions of the eight PSDs in the different urban natural environments. Blue space and partly-closed green space were more preferred by the elderly, and also had more psychological restorative effects on the elderly. (2) There was no significant correlation between the number of highly perceived PSDs and preference, as well as between the number of highly perceived PSDs and psychological restoration. However, there was a significant correlation between preference and psychological restoration. (3) Partly-closed green space with more Serene and Refuge qualities, and blue space with more Serene, Refuge and Prospect properties were optimal characteristics for psychological restoration of the elderly. In addition, open green space with more Prospect, Serene and Social qualities, and closed green space with more Space, Refuge and less Nature properties could also increase psychological restoration of older adults. These findings can provide useful guidelines for restorative environmental design for the elderly in the future.
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