Environmental Influences on Aging in Place

TitleEnvironmental Influences on Aging in Place
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsBattisto, DG
Date Published2004
UniversityUniversity of Michigan
CityUnited States -- Michigan
KeywordsHealth Conditions and Status, Healthcare, Housing, Public Policy

Older adults express a strong desire to age in place and this desire increases dramatically with age. Despite their intentions, the disparities between the residential environment and the aging individual are becoming more pronounced with the increase of home-related falls, home modifications, and forced relocations. Two common strategies linked to aging in place are: 1) enhance capabilities of an individual through medical and service interventions such as medications, prostheses, and behavior changes; and 2) reduce environmental constraints and demands. While considerable research targets the first strategy, very few empirical studies show how the environment contributes to aging in place. To understand the environmental influences on aging in place, this research is organized around three general inquiries: 1) explore the factors that are common to people who choose to stay at home as long as possible versus moving, 2) understand the environmental context that is associated with aging in place, and 3) understand an older adult's decision-making process when deciding if and how to age in place. Two environmental perspectives provide a theoretical framework for this study. First, person-environment theories in aging research emphasize "person-environment fit" using interaction models. Second, theories of place in environmental psychology demonstrate the importance of the experiential quality of home for older adults. A "two-phase" research design is used to provide two complementary ways to collect and analyze information on the environmental influences on aging in place. First, correlational research is performed using multiple waves of data previously collected from longitudinal surveys by Asset and Health Dynamics among the Oldest-Old (AHEAD) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Second, face-to-face interviews with older adults 70 years and over living at home allow for a more in-depth understanding of the connections between physical properties of the home, symbolic associations and behaviors. The significance of this study stems from the multi-methodological approach, the focus on the environmental factors contributing to aging in place, and the translation of research findings into a set of empirically-based design recommendations. Findings from this research provide evidence that an environmental approach is a prerequisite to aging in place.

Endnote Keywords

Public health

Endnote ID


Short TitleEnvironmental Influences on Aging in Place
Citation Key6213