An overview of the Project


Backed by current research, Access to Nature is a multimedia educational program on improving outdoor access for older adults.


This set of three videos, interactive exercises, and a continuing education course form a powerful learning tool in a format that can easily be applied by designers, administrators, activity directors, gerontologists, and others involved with senior housing.


These guidelines show how to plan outdoor space to benefit health, increase physical activity, and improve quality of life in residential settings at all levels of care.


The Importance of Nature


Research shows that spending even brief periods of time outside can improve health and well-being. Why is it, then, that so many outdoor areas are seldom used by elderly residents?


Poor design may play a large part in this problem.


This program shows that it is possible, with little increase in cost, to develop outdoor space that is inviting and usable, leading to benefits such as higher levels of physical activity, improved mood, better hormone balance, and better sleeping patterns.



Who are we?


Access to Nature was developed by a large multidisciplinary team of expert consultants and students working with Dr. Susan Rodiek, who teaches architecture at Texas A&M University, with the input of numerous people in the seniors housing and care industry.


Credits for this Program


Many people in several different disciplines have participated in this project at various stages to research, analyze, design, develop and deliver this educational material.


We greatly appreciate everyone who contributed to making this a useful and important tool to improve quality of life for older adults.

Many thanks to the following senior communities and healthcare facilities for their participation:
Crestview Retirement Community Sheridan on Rock Prairie
Carriage Inn St. Joseph Manor Assisted Living
Sheridan on Anderson The Millican House
Brighton Gardens - Orland Park Schwab Rehabilitation Center
Belmont Village at Buffalo Grove Self-Help Home
Belmont Village of Oak Park Smith Crossing
Chicago Botanic Garden Sunrise Assisted Living of Bloomingdale
Devonshire of Hoffmann Estates Sunrise of Buffalo Grove
Fountains of Crystal Lake Sunrise of Flossmoor
Friendship Village of Schaumburg Sunrise of Glen Ellyn
Hearthstone at Arlington Heights Sunrise of Highland Park
The Holmstad Sunrise of Naperville North
Inn of Willow Falls Sunrise of Palos Park
Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital Tabor Hills Retirement Community
Montgomery Place The Seasons at Glenview Place
Meadows of Glen Ellyn Village Woods
The Morton Arboretum Weinburg Community
The Park at Vernon Hills Willows of Hawthorne Lake
Peace Village Woodlands at the British Home
The Abbey at Westminister Plaza The Hampton at Willowbrook
Atria Kingwood Harvest Home
Atria Sugarland Hearthstone at Cyfair
Belmont Village at Holcombe Hearthstone at Riverside
Brighton Gardens at Bellaire Heartland Healthcare Center at Willowbrook
The Buckingham The Heritage
Champion Oaks Medallion Assisted Living
Clarewood House Oasis Lifestyle
Edenbrook of Champions Parson's House
The Forum at Memorial Woods Sugarland Oaks
Greatwood Retirement AL Community Swan Manor
The Hampton at Pinegate The Rosemont Assisted Living of Clear Lake
The Hampton at Shadowlake Tomball Retirement Center
The Hampton at Spring Shadows
Aegis Lodge at Totem Lake Lakeshore
Aegis of Shoreline Madison House Retirement Community
Bethany at Silvercrest The Marymoor
Brighton Gardens of Orland Park Merrill Gardens at Admiral Heights
Brighton Court Merrill Gardens at Marysville
Cancer Lifeline Merrill Gardens at Mill Creek
Crista Ministries Senior Living Merrill Gardens at Monroe
Daystar AL Westwood Merrill Gardens at West Seattle
El Dorado West Retirement Community Merrill Gardens at Queen Anne
Emerald Heights Norse Home
Everett Plaza Olympic Place Retirement and AL Community
Evergreen Hospice Pete Gross House
Evergreen Lodge Sunrise of Bellevue
Faerland Terrace Sunrise of Edmonds
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center Village Green
Hearthstone of Green Lakes Woodland Park
Industry Support for Phase II
Connie Beran Alice Hedt Leslie Moldow Donald Redfoot
John Derr Carl Irwin Rober Mollica Cynthia Rudder
Mark B. Epstein Robert Kramer Richard Ogrin David S. Schless
Thomas Grape David Kyllo Doug Pace Lori Walsh
Richard Grimes Karen Love Karl Polzer Paul Williams
David Hammonds Colin Milner
Experts Consulted
Mike Adams Patrik Grahn Victor Regnier Timothy Sullivan
Pamela Anderson Maritta Haavisto Peter Rohrer Paivi Topo
Jeffrey Anderzhon Phil Jones Cynthia Rudder Martha Tyson
Antonieta Angulo Rachel Kaplan Walborg Ruohomaa Roger Ulrich
Paul Beathard Alee Karpf Naomi Sachs Gwen Uman
Barbara Budzinski Pau Klaassen David S. Schless James Varni, M.D.
Maggie Calkins Robert Kramer Ben Schwartz Lori Walsh
Diane Carstens John Marsden Yu-Ling Shao Judith Warren
Uriel Cohen Mary McGeough Danny Stribling Jennifer Weininger
Diane Dowdy Jim Moore Peter Studl Jerry Weisman
Thomas Fairchild Johan Ottosson John Sulik Yvonne Westerberg
Christer Fallman Andrew Pedersen Pete Sulik Paul Williams
Special thanks to the following people:
Teresia Hazen, Legacy Therapeutic Gardens and Horticultural Therapy, Portland, OR
Clare Cooper Marcus, Departments of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of California, Berkeley
Chanam Lee, Texas A&M University Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning
Marcia Ory, Texas A&M Health Science Center and Robert Wood Johnson “Active for Life” program
Ronald L. Skaggs, HKS Architects, Dallas, TX
Renee Grant-Williams, Music Services, Nashville, TN
External Reviewers for Phase II
Betsy Brawley Lois Cutler Karen Love Mardelle McCuskey Shepley
Jack Carman Kirk Hamilton Erja Rappe John Zeisel
Clare Cooper Marcus Scott King
Research Design
Susan Rodiek
Chanam Lee
Roger Ulrich
Research and Analysis
Sang Nam Ahn Matt Cefalu Min-Gyu Kim Judy Pruitt
Bradley Angel Chuck Huber Ross Larson Jennifer Sembera
Samia Askari Arleen Humphrey Chanam Lee Shelley Shahabuddin
Philomene Balihe Cody Johns Robbye Morsko Zhe Wang
Molly Black Kimberly Johns Adam Panter Trini Watkins
May Boggess Eun Jung Kim Jenni Panter
Elton Abbott Teresia Hazen Adam Panter Geoffrey Roehll
Nancy Chapman Igor Kraguljac Greg Phelps Daniel Winterbottom
Clare Cooper Marcus Ray Mullican Russell Reid John Zeisel
David Kamp Eunice Noell-Waggoner Susan Rodiek
Design and Graphics
Elton Abbott Manas Gopujkar Taner Ozdil Phillip Steffy
Danny Berger Schweta Gupta Adam Panter Eric Thompson
Shawn Chen Meg Jackson Dillon Phillips Ying Wang
Nancy Crowley Dyutima Jha Ganesh Rao Zhe Wang
Mike Droske Zhipeng Lu Jin Rao Hyung Jin Yoon
Arijit Dutta Ray Mullican Nandita Raghu Wenjun Zhao
Tony Forshage Steve Nguyen Susan Rodiek Rae Zurcher
Chad Garven
Megapixel Studios, Houston, TX
Susan Rodiek
Elton Abbott
Tony Forshage
Adam Panter
The Arkitex Studio, Inc., Bryan, TX
Video Production and Narration
Jeff Blaszak Tony Forshage Igor Kraguljac Sean Murphy
Khara Emmitte John Franklin Thomas Liberty Greg Phelps
David Feagan Clyde Hance Robyn McCarthy Steve Shabek
Frame X Frame Studios, College Station, TX
Interactive Exercises - Ganesh Rao with Vinod Srinivasan, Mike Droske, and Adam Panter
3-D Animation on “Improving Outdoor Access”- Meg Jackson, Megapixel Studios, Houston, TX
Blake Smith
Phillip Steffy
Daniel Berger
“Alegria Passion” from Shockwave Sound
“Despertar” by Aisha Duo, from the album “Quiet Songs,” on the ObliqSound label
“Dreamy Piano” from The Music Bakery
Also thanks to:
Renee Grant-Williams, Music Services, Nashville, TN
Gordon M. Gibson,“ Solitudes” label, Somerset Entertainment Ltd.
Jon Meyer Music
Blake Samperi
Sean Murphy
Special thanks to:
John McEuen
Video Wizards Music, Inc.
Interactive Exercises
Ganesh Rao
Vinod Srinivasan
Mike Droske
Adam Panter
Website Design
Victor Delgado
Lauren Gulde
Ganesh Rao
Santa Clara Design, College Station, TX
Supplemental Readings for Continuing Education Credit
Norwegian Centre for Dementia Research
Vigdis Drivdal Berentsen
Ellen-Elisabeth Grefsrod
Arnfinn Eek
Clare Cooper Marcus
Mike Droske
Project Coordination
Bradley Angell Jamie Hardin Adam Panter Larissa Sandoval
Nathan Bertoldo Robbye Morsko Nandita Raghu Sharon Thompson
Walter Arnold Michael Duffy Greg Hunteman Patrick Smith
Bill Biggs Jenny Eaves Marcia Ory Shanae Wilbert
Christopher Colenda, M.D. Lee Ferris Charles Phillips Roger Ulrich
Barney Davis
Additional Interviewees
Sandra Alvarado T.B. Daly Sandra Miles Leslie Sackett
Michael Apa Tracy Ekstrom Chris Nevaril Danny Stribling
Barbara Brownstein Jackie Elliot Kevin O’Donnell Jennifer Weininger
David Collins Alicia Lohmann Rachel Randle Sara Williams
Sharon Cudd Deborah Mahrt
Texas A&M University
Len Berry Kirk Hamilton George Mann Murray Regan
Susie Billings Catherine Hawes Janet Marcantonio Phillip Rollfing
Geoffrey Booth Robin Hawkins Joseph McGraw Martha Tackett
Byron Butler Andy Hietpas Alisan Morris Lou Tassinary
Preston DuBose Josephine Hodge Ian Muise Dawn Trog
Michael Duffy Linnae Hutchison Chris Novosad Anjali Venkataiah
Scott Fredericksen Bill Jencks Marcia Ory Ronald Zellner
Dolores Gonzales Carol Lafayette Judy Pruitt
The Texas A&M University Mays Business School
Funding Support
The National Institute on Aging
SBIR Grant # R44 AG24786
Sidney Stahl
M.D. Kerns
In memory of
Kevin O’Donnell
Frank Pley
Marie Jansen