PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2015, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (12): 1495-1511.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2015.12.002

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Rethinking ageing in place: the ‘people’ and ‘place’ nexus

BOYLE Alexandra1(), L. WILES Janine2, A. KEARNS Robin3,*   

  1. 1. School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 4NS, United Kingdom
    2. School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland 1072, New Zealand
    3. School of Environment, University of Auckland, Auckland 1010,New Zealand
  • Online:2015-12-31 Published:2015-12-31
  • Contact: A. KEARNS Robin


‘Ageing in place’ is a well-established concept within gerontological and geographical literatures as well as continuing to be mobilised as a potentially effective policy mechanism for addressing the needs and choices of ageing populations. To date, ageing in place research has highlighted many factors that enable older adults to age well in the (home) place focusing on the physical dimensions of housing or the home as a site of care. Gerontological researchers also recognise that ageing in place, or community living, implies a two-way relationship between the physical contexts and the social and emotional places of ageing. However we argue for a subtle, yet crucial, inversion of the roles of people and place in the experiences of ageing. In particular we suggest that what makes ageing in place successful is the potential of place to support meaningful relationships. We suggest that too often the word ‘place’ constrains focus to those spaces that are geographically proximate to the ageing body or are physically bounded such as the house or neighbourhood. Instead, drawing on a review of current literature, we explore the idea that what is of greater consequence to many people who are ageing in place is the multiple, networked social and non-social relations they develop across different spatial scales and over time. This revised approach to ageing in place allows us to understand better older adults’ layered connectivity to place and well as the ability to differentiate the meaning of ageing in place by the scale and types of relationships.

Key words: ageing in place, relationships, neighbourhood, older adults, ageing, place, people