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How do unfamiliar environments convey meaning to older people? Urban dimensions of placelessness and attachment / Judith, Phillips
International Journal of Ageing and Later Life, Volume: 6, Issue: 2, Pages: 73 - 102
Swansea University Author: Judith, Phillips
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The discussion within gerontology of the relationship between older people and their environment (place attachment & ageing in place in particular) has been based on an assumption of familiarity with place. Yet increasingly older people experience unfamiliar environments. This can be through...
|Published in:||International Journal of Ageing and Later Life|
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The discussion within gerontology of the relationship between older people and their environment (place attachment & ageing in place in particular) has been based on an assumption of familiarity with place. Yet increasingly older people experience unfamiliar environments. This can be through increased travelling as tourists and visitors to other towns and cities, through redevelopment of town centres or through cognitive decline, where the familiar becomes unfamiliar.This paper reviews the conceptual frameworks underpinning the concepts of place attachment and unfamiliarity and questions the relevance of such concepts for understanding urban lifestyles in later life. We demonstrate that even in an unfamiliar environment older people can develop a sense of place through the aesthetics and usability of the environment as well as through shared memories. Consequently this has relevance for how we plan our environments to make them age-friendly.
Based on an ESRC- funded study under the New Dynamics of Ageing programme, this article makes a significant contribution to the theoretical development of environmental gerontology by challenging the traditional concepts in ageing based on familiarity with place and space. It draws on a mixed method study which involved older people and planners in the research process. It is the first study on unfamiliarity which involved older people in both qualitative and quantitative data gathering. It challenges key concepts in gerontology which have underpinned policy and raises implications for policy and practice in addressing the challenges of an older population.
ageing, unfamiliar environments, attachment to place, sense of place, placelessness
College of Human and Health Sciences