The importance of place attachment in the understanding of ageing in place: "the stones know me"

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As academic literature has shown, there is a preference among older adults to experience old age independently, in their own homes, giving shape to what has been called ageing in place. This phenomenon links residence, life cycle, and the experience of old age. Although it depends on many factors (housing characteristics, the elderly's economy, or their social support, among others) it is based on place attachment as a key aspect, which comprises two different but interwoven dimensions: the home (private space) and the neighbourhood (social space), understood as an extended sphere of the home. Despite its importance, and beyond the consensus that the time spent in a place increases attachment to it, the processes whereby place attachment is constructed by the elderly and the role of the experience of neighbourhood are little known. This article intended to delve into the meaning of place attachment, its importance, and how it is built by the elderly population in urban areas. For this purpose, a qualitative study was conducted in Spain, selecting Madrid (the biggest city in the country) as a case study of how place attachment is shaped in an urban setting. To obtain in-depth information, data were collected through ethnographic interviews with 37 people aged 65-95 and 1 focus group among elderly aged 65-71. The most relevant finding of the qualitative analysis is the emotional significance of attachment to the local space as an element that enables continuity-as opposed to the rupture to which we associate old age- in the experience of the life cycle of the elderly. It should be noted that some of the results are conditioned by the specificities of Spanish society, particularly with regard to family ties. Potential extrapolations to other realities should take this point into account.
This article belongs to the Special Issue Friendly Residential Environments for Ageing in Place with Autonomy and Independence.
Ageing in place, Intimate strangers, Place attachment
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Lebrusán, I., & Gómez, M. V. (2022). The Importance of Place Attachment in the Understanding of Ageing in Place: “The Stones Know Me”. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(24), 17052.