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Psychological Dividend of Aging in Place

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by Patrick Roden

Psychological Dividend of Aging in Place

A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.
-Benjamin Franklin

Emotion and Aging in Place

From environmental gerontology the term “Place-attachment” is used to describe the subconscious drive to remain at home: One’s emotional ties to a place resulting from long-term connection with a certain environment. Being “Home-Sick” is a symptom of Place Attachment and can happen at any age—but, older adults spend more time at home and thus the attachment is often deeper and more central to a sense of self.

“Continuity of Self”

Aging by definition means change, and change often is equated with loss; loss of roles, physical capacities, family and friends. The continuity theory of normal aging states that; older adults will usually maintain the same activities, behaviors, personalities, and relationships as they did in their earlier years of life and they will do this by adapting strategies that are connected to their past experiences.

In my studies (and experience) older adults view the home and neighborhood as an extension of the self. Their homes are treasure-troves of meaningful objects that support identity and delight the senses. The phrase:  “My home is a part of me” is one I’ve heard often from longtime residents of dwellings. This concept is eloquently addressed in the book by Marcus Cooper, Home as Mirror of Self. This is important because “home” can act as a stable sense-of-self (ego integrity), a psychological oasis in a time of change and loss that is aging.

Tags: aging in place home attachment relationship emotional attachment continuity of self self-respect

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