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Finding (a) place in later life: Exploring the role of place and space in shaping older people's experience of social exclusion

Wyllie, Aaron (2020) Finding (a) place in later life: Exploring the role of place and space in shaping older people's experience of social exclusion. PhD thesis, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

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Abstract

Meaningful relationships with place in later life are known to support the maintenance of identity and provide a sense of belonging and continuity. The accessibility and safety of living spaces and neighbourhoods are also critical to enable older people’s independence, support their continued engagement in preferred activities, and facilitate meaningful social interactions. Conversely, poor place relationships and a lack of attachment to place can occur in circumstances where features of a home or neighbourhood impede an older adult’s daily functioning. Also, some places may stimulate difficult or painful emotions. Within the context of an ageing population, an understanding of how meaningful relationships with place are built and maintained in later life is critical to enable older adult’s wellbeing and to facilitate their ongoing contribution to Australian society. Using a social exclusion framework, this research explored the place relationships of 10 older adults living independently in the community, and a further 16 older adults living in two different supported accommodation settings. Through in-depth interviews held within each participant’s living environment, this research sought to understand how relationships with place could contribute to, or protect against, experiences of disadvantage across the life course, and into later life. The findings illuminate the significance of place relationships for older adults, and highlight the many and varied meanings and functions of different living environments in later life. For older people living independently in the community, the home and neighbourhood could be both a critical source of identity and meaning, as well as the context for practical realities demands requiring constant attention and daily negotiation within the context of ageing related change. Findings also revealed the complex interaction of relationships between home and neighbourhood settings, highlighting the fluidity of exclusion at different scales of place. While length of residence was a key predictor of attachment to home and neighbourhood environments, disadvantage significantly shaped more practical considerations, such as the capacity to maintain the home’s functionality and safely navigate the neighbourhood, within the context of ageing related changes. In supported accommodation environments, life course disadvantage and past place experiences significantly shaped both the circumstances of relocation, and perceptions of everyday life post-transition. While aspects of supported accommodation could contribute to experiences of disadvantage for some older adults, others experienced a newfound sense of belonging. The implications of this study’s findings for practice, policy and research are outlined, and include a closer examination of immediate living environments in shaping and maintaining processes of disadvantage, and policies which recognise older adults’ varied needs and capacities with respect to care and accommodation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aged care; place and space; social exclusion; social inclusion; meaning of home
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Health and Social Care, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2020 15:09
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:16
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28156

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