PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (1): 132-142.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.01.013

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A geographic review of Western research on long-term care for the elderly

WU Danxian1,2,3, GAO Xiaolu1,2,3,*()   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-03-19 Revised:2019-08-04 Online:2020-01-28 Published:2020-03-28
  • Contact: GAO Xiaolu
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871171)


In many Western countries, geographic studies on long-term care for the elderly originated from geriatrics and nursing science, and then from the sub-fields of medical geography, health geography, and disability geography, and care geography—a new interdisciplinary field has emerged. Medicine, health, disability, and health care are core issues in the studies on the changing geography of elderly care, which has focused increasingly more on long-term care in recent years. Based on an intensive review of Western literature, this article extracts five themes from existing geographic studies on long-term care for the elderly, that is, the geographical distribution of long-term care needs of the elderly, the accessibility of care facilities and change, the use of long-term care and barriers for the utilization, the care experience of people in relation to space and place, and discussion on long-term care policies. In recent years, Chinese geographers have been paying more attention to the aging problem. However, the research perspective has been still relatively narrow and few academic papers have been published in the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) library so far. Geographic research on long-term care for the disabled elderly is a brand new field. Given the substantial amount of disabled elderly population in increasing proportions, long-term care provision has become the key issue and major focus of the elderly support system in China. Thus it is of high scientific value and urgent practical needs to carry out geographic research on long-term care for the elderly. It may not be unreasonable to suggest that researchers provide geographic perspectives to their research with regard to the socioeconomic backgrounds, policy demand, and research foci in China. Through a comparative study of the Chinese and Western contexts, the emphases of research in the future are proposed with the aim to develop deeper insights for elderly long-term care policies in China, including geographic database, theories, and research system construction.

Key words: population aging, disabled elderly, long-term care, care geography, interdisciplinary study, Western countries