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Exploring the Perspectives of Older People on the Concept of Home

Exploring the Perspectives of Older People on the Concept of Home Hindawi Journal of Aging Research Volume 2019, Article ID 2679680, 10 pages https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/2679680 Research Article Deborah Hatcher , Esther Chang, Virginia Schmied, and Sandra Garrido Western Sydney University, Sydney, NSW, Australia Correspondence should be addressed to Deborah Hatcher; d.hatcher@westernsydney.edu.au Received 28 November 2018; Revised 9 April 2019; Accepted 22 April 2019; Published 18 June 2019 Academic Editor: Jean-Francois Grosset Copyright © 2019 Deborah Hatcher et al. *is is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Objectives. Continuing to live at home is arguably one of the most important challenges older persons face as they age. *e aim of this study was to clarify how older adults conceptualise home through age-related lifestyle changes. Methods. Principles from grounded theory were used to examine the perspectives of 21 older adults obtained from three focus group discussions and 10 in- depth semistructured interviews. Results. Four major categories were developed: “anchoring self,” “enabling freedom,” “being comfortable,” and “staying in touch.” Discussion. For the participants in this study remaining at home enabled a sense of in- dependence and freedom, self-worth and identity, comfort, and an ongoing active role in the community. However, some aspects of home could be renegotiated despite changes to living location, with new social connections able to be forged and personal comforts being transferrable. *is holds important implications for supporting older persons to both sustain living at home and to adjust to changing circumstances, suggesting the importance of drawing on the experiences of older persons themselves in developing strategies to promote successful aging. perspectives of the older adults who participated in our 1. Background study, we follow Kontos’ definition [11] and use the term Countries around the globe are experiencing an increase in “home” in a broad sense to refer to a physical location in the proportion of their citizens that are aged 60 and over [1]. which the individual lives, “a space that is controlled by and Economically, an ageing population is associated with de- is uniquely the domain of the individual” (p. 179). creasing productivity and higher government spending Individuals report a preference for staying in their own [2, 3]. Part of this increased spending by governments relates homes rather than relocating to care accommodation as they to the provision of institutional aged care and other health age [12]. In Australia, 99% of people between the ages of 65 services [4]. *us, sustaining living at home for older people and 74 and 75% of people over the age of 85 were living in has become high on the agenda of governments in countries private dwellings in 2006 [13]. such as Australia and the UK [5, 6]. Older people tend to spend up to 72% of their time inside Home relates to both the spatial location in which one their homes [14], making the decision about where to live a resides and to social and psychological constructs [7, 8]. One crucial one. Being able to continue living at home assists the review of 49 articles found that the concept of home older person by providing a familiar environment within encompassed descriptions of the house itself along with which to contend with the challenges and changes to lifestyle discussions about family, the self, gender, the home as a that occur due to the ageing process. Home also often re- haven, and the idea of journeying [9]. Another study of the mains the one stable entity in the lives of the older person meaning of home in palliative care situations from the when everything else is changing. Living at home thus assists nursing literature similarly found that the concept involved older people to retain some control over their daily lives and attributes related to the physical location, as well as to an to maintain some independence and autonomy [15]. emotional environment [10]. In the current study, although Given the importance of the home environment to an older adult’s capacity to sustain independent living, much we focus on defining the concept of home from the 2 Journal of Aging Research Older persons are not a homogeneous group. *e way a research has explored the concept of home in terms of questions relating to the home’s usability, or safety [16], or in person adjusts and adapts to ageing is influenced by indi- vidual, biological, psychological, and social factors within adapting to the need for relocation. Johnson and Bibbo [17], for example, used a phenomenological approach to examine the economic and political context in which they live, as well the meaning of home in a group of eight older adults shortly as lifestyle, educational, and environmental factors [25]. after their relocation to nursing homes in the Midwest U.S. *us, the experience of ageing and adapting to the changes *ey reported that autonomy of decision-making about with which ageing is associated is highly individual. Despite where to live as well as actively changing their attitudes this, the subjective experience of older persons who remain strongly influenced the capacity for the participants to adapt in their homes during the ageing process has received comparatively little attention in the literature. Few studies to their new environment. *e concept of home for older adults has also been have compared the meaning of home between people who are able to remain in the family home and those who must explored from gerontological, environmental, and psycho- logical viewpoints [18]. Oswald and Wahl [19], for example, adjust to new locations. Nevertheless, to gain an accurate understanding of the issues older people face when con- took an environmental psychology perspective and focused on concepts related to attachment to place in 126 older sidering their living options, it is vital to explore the per- persons living at home in Germany. *ey found five global spectives of older persons themselves on the concept of meaning categories relating to the concept of attachment to home. home: physical, behavioural, cognitive, emotional, and *is study, therefore, aims to understand the phe- social. nomenon of older people living at home in Australia at a Another study focused on home as a “space” among personal level, from the perspective both of those living in their long-term family home and those who have adjusted to widows, showing that emotional attachments to “home” are multifaceted and are strongly influenced by personal con- newer living conditions in older age. *e study aims to clarify how older adults conceptualise home and provide a nection to place and relationships [20]. Barry and colleagues [21] performed a concept analysis of 49 published articles to perspective that can inform policy and practice to support continued living at home or successful transitions to care define a concept of home from older women living alone in the community. *ey found that to older women home was a accommodation in older adults. resource and an attachment that took an increasing effort to sustain, but that maintaining one’s capacity to stay living at 2. Method home was a cultural expectation. In other research, the concept of home has been explored *is study used focus groups and interviews conducted with with a view to understand the housing needs of older in- 21 older adults, drawing on principles of grounded theory dividuals. Bigonnesse and colleagues [22], for example, [26] in its approach to data collection and analysis. found that personal belongings that hold memories and Grounded theory is a qualitative method often used to in- bring comfort connect older persons to the physical space of vestigate an individual’s experience of a phenomenon and home. For some, a house itself can be a place of familial was followed in the current study in that we took an in- heritage and allows the individual to remain connected to ductive approach to exploring the research question, without the generations of family members who once lived within prior hypotheses [27]. *is approach has been widely used the walls [23]. across nursing and midwifery disciplines from pregnancy to Relationships and roles in the community are also an end of life care and has been successful in gaining knowledge integral part of the meaning of home and can provide se- about areas of limited understanding [28–30]. curity and comfort [24]. A sense of identity in the com- munity can result from friendly neighbours, nearby friends, and family and participation in volunteer roles or special 2.1. Participants and Recruitment. Both focus groups and interest groups [20]. Being forced to leave one’s home can interviews were used to collect data, following the model of sever important community connections and remove the Lambert and Loiselle [31]. Purposive sampling was used to intergenerational aspect of community living. recruit participants for the focus groups, and theoretical Understanding individual experiences of remaining at sampling (with the researcher using data previously col- home offers important perspectives that can inform ageing lected to determine where to next collect data) was used to policy and practice in residential and community aged care recruit interview participants, as is common in the practice to support ongoing independence in older adults. Fur- of grounded theory and will be described in more detail thermore, to understand the issues older people face when below [32]. Participants were recruited from a local gov- considering their housing options, it is vital to explore the ernment Seniors Centre in Western Sydney, Australia. In- feelings and beliefs of older people about the meaning home clusion criteria were as follows: (i) aged 65 or over; (ii) a has for them. However, as conditions relating to ageing at resident of Western Sydney NSW, Australia, (iii) currently home are experienced in highly individual ways and older living in their home for at least 12 months before the study, persons in the community include individuals with more (iv) English speaking, and (v) consented to participate in the than 40 years of collective generational experience, it can be study. difficult to address the phenomenon of sustaining living at Of the 21 participants in total, seven were married, 12 home comprehensively and holistically. widowed, one never married, and one divorced. Twelve Journal of Aging Research 3 female participant was interviewed in each group due to participants lived in a house, six in a unit and the other three in a town house, retirement village, and a duplex. *e length changing circumstances over time. of time participants had lived in their current dwelling ranged from 2.5–74 years. Almost all participants had lived 2.2. Data Collection. After obtaining ethics approval from in their current homes for at least 10 years, and some had the Western Sydney University Human Research Ethics lived there for more than 40 years. *e household compo- Committee and meeting with the Senior Centre’s co- sition included 12 living alone, five living with a partner, two ordinator, the researcher attended a forum for centre with their children, and two with a partner and children. members to explain details of the study. Potential partici- According to local census information, demographics were pants were told that the study related to exploring the relatively reflective of the population of older people living in concept of ageing and remaining living at home with a the study’s geographical area [33]. positive ageing focus. Participants were given both verbal and written information about the study and were given a chance to ask questions about the study. *ey were told that 2.1.1. Focus Groups. Purposive sampling was first used to they could take the information sheet and consent form develop focus groups which provided a broad collective away and think about participation. However, all those who perspective of the topic. *ree focus groups were conducted, volunteered wanted to sign up immediately. Older persons and participants were invited to participate following their who accepted the invitation to participate were personally attendance at regular classes at the Seniors Centre, including contacted via telephone within two days of the study to line dancing, exercise, and indoor bowls classes. Group 1 ascertain that they met the inclusion criteria. All volunteers consisted of three males and seven females, group 2 con- met the inclusion criteria. Written informed consent was sisted of six females, and group 3 consisted of four males. obtained from all participants prior to commencing the Same gender groups such as those in groups 2 and 3 were focus groups. used to account for gender-based differences in interaction Consistent with grounded theory, data collection and styles [34]. analysis proceeded in an iterative fashion that moved backwards and forwards from one level of analysis to an- other. Data collection commenced with a general approach 2.1.2. Interviews. Following the three focus groups, in- through focus group discussions. As the study progressed, terviews were conducted to provide an opportunity for data collection and analysis became more focused through exploration of topics that were difficult to cover in a group the individual interviews. *e concepts generated from this setting such as personal finances and health and to explore analysis were then used as the basis for questions for the individual perspectives in more depth. Recruitment for the individual interviews. Data collection ceased when theo- interviews occurred at the conclusion of each focus group. In retical saturation was reached, i.e., when no additional data total, 17 out of 20 focus group participants accepted the could be used to further develop the properties of a category invitation to participate in the individual interviews. Based [26]. on the preliminary concepts that emerged from the analysis of focus group data, nine older persons were recruited to be interviewed using theoretical sampling. *ese nine partici- 2.2.1. Focus Groups. Focus groups were conducted in a small pants were selected because they reflected a range of personal quiet room that was free from visual and outside distractions circumstances and variability in the strategies they used to with participants seated in a circular fashion behind tables. sustain their capacity to continue living at home. *ey also Discussions were audio recorded using a digital recorder. had various levels of good health and support, which allowed Biographical data were collected from each person by means for a wide exploration of circumstances. One other older of a Participant Personal Profile form, which collected in- person who was unable to attend a focus group also accepted formation about personal characteristics, education, occu- the invitation to be interviewed (n � 10). Pseudonyms were pation, retirement, income, housing, living arrangement, used, and personally identifying information was removed and support. Participants in each focus group were then from transcriptions to ensure participant confidentiality. welcomed and an introduction about the purpose of the Sampling was determined by the need to recruit a focus group given. A topic guide that had been developed participant who could provide the information necessary to based on the literature was used to prompt the discussions further develop the theory. In the first five interviews, four following Krueger and Casey’s [35] recommendation (see females over the age of 75 years living alone and one male Appendix A). Concept checking was performed by reading living with a family member were chosen as data showed the main points to participants for confirmation both during these participants had already put in place a number of and after data collection [36]. processes to enable continued living at home. In the second group of five interviews, the older persons selected for in- terview were chosen because their individual circumstances 2.2.2. Interviews. *e interviews were conducted using a had changed significantly and become more complex due to focused, open-ended, and semistructured interview guide to deteriorating health. *ese five participants had either prompt conversation [37]. *is approach enabled the re- moved out of their home into alternative accommodation or searcher to ensure coverage of essential topics while still were now living at home with higher levels of support. One allowing the interview to be largely directed by the 4 Journal of Aging Research participant (see Appendix B). Each interview gathered more have lived in the same place for 32 years,” and Sarah, “I have data on the developing categories, and the questions became lived there for 74 years.” *is longevity of domicile created strong and deep connections, resulting in a reluctance to more focused as the interviews progressed in order to obtain saturation of the developing categories. Data were collected, leave. Sarah described how she felt firmly anchored at home coded, and analysed to determine where to next collect data, and had “never ever thought about” living elsewhere. Rose as described below. similarly said: Of the nine participants (one interviewed twice), two chose to be interviewed in their own homes and one in a I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else . . .. I love my hostel. Another chose to be interviewed over the telephone at home and I lived there when I was married and I’ve never the retirement village. *e remaining interviews were had another home on my own . . .. I don’t want to leave it conducted at the Seniors Centre. All interviews were audio- and I can’t imagine going into a nursing home or a re- recorded using a digital recorder. tirement village or anything like that because it’s just, I suppose, just home to me. 2.3. Data Analysis. Data collection and analysis informed each other throughout the progress of the study [32]. Open 3.1.2. Personal Investment. *e investment of personal and coding was first conducted line by line on printed transcripts financial resources in obtaining one’s home further strengthened this sense of attachment to their home. As using a process that Strauss and Corbin described as mi- croanalysis. Initial codes were in vivo, that is, in the words of Irene stated: the older persons. Later in analysis, axial coding was used in which codes were conceptualised and initial in vivo codes Well, why give up a home when I’ve fought so hard to get were further developed into categories by grouping of similar it? I had to pay for the place myself . . .. I have lived in the concepts and exploration of relationships between the codes. house for 40 years and I don’t want to shift . . . I’ve got no Constant comparison was used, with all new data coded and intentions unless I have to of leaving. Maybe I’m too compared with previously collected data for similarities and determined. I think I’d die before leaving. differences. During this process, questions were continually asked of the data, diagrams were constructed and memos Others described how a part of them had gone into were written to assist with theoretical conception. In a third building and creating their home. As Peggy said: “We built our house.” Kathy further spoke about how she built a new level of analysis, selective coding was used to integrate data categories in formation and refinement of an overarching home to facilitate self-management of her chronic illness, taking responsibility for creating her own living circum- theory [38]. Guided by the Strauss and Corbin [32] approach, a storyline was written to define and explain the central stances as her needs changed. category and the relationship of all categories. 3.1.3. Sense of Identity and Place in the World. For many, a 3. Results major reason that home provided a sense of anchorage for the self related to self-identity. *is concept was illustrated *e study revealed four major categories in the data that by the way older persons consistently made reference to their related to the perspectives of home of the older adults in this home as my home, implying a sense of identity through study: anchoring self, enabling freedom, being comfortable, ownership. A sense of the status and a place in the world that and staying in touch. *ese categories along with their is achieved by home ownership was also described. Sally subcategories will be discussed in more detail below (see said: “It is my home because I own it.” Table 1). Living in one’s home over a significant period of time also facilitated close connections with the local community, 3.1. Anchoring Self. *e determination to remain living at which further strengthened this sense of self-identity as home was evident for all older persons in this study. Home being attached to the location of the physical place of res- represented their past, present, and future and gave the idence. Living at home enabled the older persons to notion of “anchoring self,” as Jane described: “But one’s life maintain this sense of identity within their community as it gets locked into an area . . . your life gets locked up in the conveyed messages about them to others. *ese community things you create.” Within this concept of anchoring self, connections became even more evident when significant life four factors appeared to increase the sense of connection changes occurred, such as the death of a spouse. Jane de- that individuals felt with their home: (i) longevity of do- scribed this when she said: “2ose people [neighbours] had micile, (ii) personal investment in the home, (iii) the sense of known him [her husband] and that is very important to me, identity and place in the world that the home instilled, (iv) that I am not just me but that I was part of a double, part of somebody else.” and the facilitation of self-expression that having one’s own home provided. 3.1.4. Facilitation of Self-Expression. For others, creating a home was as simple as keeping mementos around the home 3.1.1. Longevity of Domicile. Most of the older persons had lived in the same home for a significant time such as John, “I as a reflection and expression of self. *is aspect was Journal of Aging Research 5 Table 1: *e meaning of home: categories and subcategories. Anchoring self Enabling freedom Being comfortable Staying in touch Personalize activities and self- Longevity of domicile Having things one needs Position close to family and friends manage time Base for participation in community Personal investment Purpose and reason to keep busy Good memories activities Sense of identity/place in the Familiarity, peace of mind and Independence in everyday tasks world stability Space for relaxation and Facilitating self-expression Lack of interference from others restoration illustrated when Ellen made reference to moving from house housework myself.” *e participants recognised that keeping busy and active would help them to maintain good health. to house throughout her adult years and creating a new home through decorating each new house with personal mementos. She expressed this as: “I can make a home 3.2.3. Independence in Everyday Tasks. Although the par- anywhere . . . Everybody has a few personal things that they ticipants varied in their ability to perform the tasks of ev- dearly love . . . I put up two paintings. 2at was home.” eryday living themselves, a range of benefits ensued from In summary, to the older persons in this study, home being independent, including a sense of self-pride and represented a place where they felt anchored and where they personal satisfaction through feelings of accomplishment. were able to create and maintain their self-identity despite Many expressed pride at their ability to live independently. the changes and challenges that occur with ageing. *is sense Anne and Rose both proudly stated, “I do all my own work.” of connection with their home made it difficult for many of Home gave them the freedom to do this, which might not be these older people to envisage living in alternative accom- possible if they relocated. modation. Home was presented as an extension of the person and extraction from their entrenched lives at home would mean leaving behind a part of themselves, losing their 3.2.4. Lack of Interference from Others. Independent living sense of self. enabled the freedom of not having to consider anyone else or contend with interference from others. *is freedom facil- 3.2. Enabling Freedom. *e meaning of home also itated autonomy and control in their planning of everyday encompassed being free of constraints. To many partici- living. Rose described her experience as: pants, home symbolised freedom as highlighted by Dan, “Because I am sure that living in my home, definitely, [means] I’m used to being on my own and when you’re on your more freedom.” *is freedom included (i) the ability to own you can do what you like, you can eat what you like, personalize activities and self-manage time, (ii) having a you can go to bed and get up when you feel like it . . .. I like purpose and reasons to keep busy, (iii) performing the tasks to be able to do things my way. If you’ve got me living with of everyday living independently, and (iv) not having to anyone they say well you do so and so and they might do it contend with interference from others. different to what I would do it . . . I just feel happy living in my own home . . .. Doing what I want to do and doing it when I feel like doing it. 3.2.1. Personalize Activities and Self-Manage Time. Home offered the older persons a known territory and a familiar It was felt that the sense of freedom and independence environment in which they retained self-determination in gained from living at home would be lost with moving out of deciding how they would go about their everyday living. home. Irene revealed this concern when she said, “I’m too *us, living at home afforded people the freedom to per- attached to my home . . . I’m used to being independent and I sonalize their daily activities and self-manage their time. don’t think I could confine down to regulations and rules.” Rose expressed this freedom saying: “Because it is home and I Tim, who was interviewed both before and after moving to a can do what I like.” Irene similarly identified the control she hostel commented on the loss to his freedom and in- maintains: “Come and go when you wish . . . without someone dependence after the move, saying: wanting you to do this or that.” *ey have fixed meal times here, so you can’t wander 3.2.2. Purpose and Reason to Keep Busy. Living in- down any old time. . . On your own you might say, “Oh, dependently in one’s own home necessitates a certain I’ll have something early,” or “I’ll have it later” . . . I’m amount of work in order to care for oneself and the home. used to sort of going out to the shops and doing a little bit *us, living at home gave individuals a degree of purpose in of shopping and now that’s a problem. life and a reason to keep busy. Irene expressed this as: “I feed my cat and look after that, keep the house tidy in general and I In summary, home as a place for freedom was one of the most important meanings of home emerging from the data. see that the raking up’s done out in the garden.” Sarah said: “I do my own cooking and things like that . . . I do all my Older persons described having a choice in making decisions 6 Journal of Aging Research the children when they were small. . . When they [children] all about everyday activities, as well as the capacity to live independently and to keep busy with the tasks of everyday married and had their own homes, they call my place home.” living. *is not only resulted in great pride and personal satisfaction but also enabled them to live without the in- 3.3.3. Familiarity, Peace of Mind, and Stability. *e idea of terference of others. familiarity also seems to underpin the concept of comfort in the older persons in this study. Having comfort at home was 3.3. Being Comfortable. A third subcategory emerging from also expressed as having peace of mind and a sense of the responses of the older persons as they described the competence through living in a familiar environment. Ellen meaning of home was that home was a source of emotional illustrated this when she said, “I know where things are so and physical comfort. Comfort was derived from (i) having that’s a big plus . . . It’s familiar.” Rose similarly said, “I’m things one needs, (ii) the good memories associated with comfortable . . . I know where everything is that I need . . . even home, (iii) the familiar territory providing peace of mind if I didn’t have my fairly good eyesight I would still be able to and stability, and (iv) having a space for relaxation and get around.” *is familiarity evidently added to a sense of restoration. happiness and wellbeing in participants. As Peggy stated, “I have been there [home] for about 50 years now and I enjoy it.” 3.3.1. Having 2ings One Needs. Ellen spoke of the con- tentment derived from living at home when she said, “It’s 3.3.4. Space for Relaxation and Restoration. Living at home very comfortable. We’re here together . . . Our home is very and having access to their own garden also provided par- important to us . . . I think we’ve got everything we want in ticipants with a comfortable place for relaxation. Sally said, this house.” Marjorie echoed Ellen’s comments when she “It’s a sort of relaxation to go down there [garden].” For some, said, “I’ve got everything there that I want.” Tim similarly their garden had become a haven to unwind and a place to stated, take things easy. Irene described her experience as: “You forget your worries I reckon when you go outside.” She also I had all my stuff there, and it’s organised comfortably stated, “I like space . . . would hate to live in a room. I like my with comfortable chairs and a good bed and everything. . . backyard.” you’ve got everything, when I’d arranged everything the Being able to use home as a place for revival and res- way I wanted. toration when returning home after engaging with others in the community was also a way of being comfortable. Ellen Interestingly, “comfort” was one of the meanings of described being at home between activities and social out- home that older persons were able to renegotiate after re- ings as: “You stay at home to catch your breath.” location. Although only a few older persons had moved out In summary, being comfortable was an important of their homes by the conclusion of the study, all had subcategory describing the meaning of home emerging from managed to find comfort through having familiar things the responses of older persons in this study. Living at home around them. After relocating to a hostel, Tim was able to provided emotional and physical comfort as home afforded state, “2is is my home . . . I’m comfortable here.” Referring to the physical comforts of having the things one needs or- her relocation to a retirement village, Maree similarly said: ganized as one pleased, connection with good memories, a “It’s very comfortable. . . happy to be here and it is, with all my peaceful space for relaxation and restoration, and peace of things around me, it’s just like my own home.” mind and stability through familiarity. 3.3.2. Good Memories. Older persons also found comfort 3.4. Staying in Touch. *e final subcategory which emerged from the many good memories their home generated. Home from the data was “staying in touch.” *e older persons was a place where they could reflect on happy times. Dan agreed that living at home (i) positioned them close to their spoke of these pleasant memories when he said, “You cannot family, friends, and neighbours and (ii) provided a base for deny at our age, our memories, still there is a lot [of memories participation in community activities and making new at] home . . . and everyone enjoys to see or to live or to tell friends. about his memories.” Some described home as a place where memories of their childhood, adulthood, and parenthood are held and embodied. Irene stated, “I have a lot of 3.4.1. Positioning Close to Family and Friends. *e con- memories . . . when no one’s here . . . I have a lot of thinking to sensus among the older persons in this study was that living do.” Sarah also described feeling comfort through reliving at home positioned them close to their family, friends, and fond childhood memories of the home where she still neighbours. In this way, home provided a support network and prevented isolation, allowing them to keep in contact resides. A few older persons also revealed that living at home with others. When describing her available support network Sarah stated, “My sister lives next door,” and Ellen referred to gave comfort to their adult children who now resided in their own homes. Rose, for example, described the happy her support as: “We have got our family around there. We got memories her home continues to give them. She stated that our interests all round this area . . .. It’s just in a good position home was “your comfort and your memories. . . memories of . . .. We’ve got a daughter down at (−).” Journal of Aging Research 7 *e older persons in this study all agreed that living at 4. Discussion home enabled them to maintain ties with people with whom *is study explored the experiences and perspectives of they had longstanding relationships. Living at home was older people living at home in Western Sydney, Australia. seen to facilitate staying in touch with others, as home and its community is known territory, and people get to know each Drawing on principles of grounded theory, focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted with 21 different par- other over time. Marjorie explained the meaning attached to these relationships with others over time when she said: ticipants about the concept of home and what it means to them. *e study was able to gain the perspective both of *e people around here, the neighbours around me, we’ve those who were living in their long-term family home, and those who had adjusted to newer living environments in all been together there . . . since 1950 . . . *e majority of them are the same but we’ve got some new neighbours later life. *e data revealed that for the older persons in this study, and they’re up the top end of the street and you wouldn’t home was the centre of their everyday living and was critical even know their name . . . but the ones down where we to maintaining independence, comfort, and freedom. Home are, there’s only about six or eight houses, they all pitch in was pivotal to the older persons self-identity and as such and help one another. reflected their sense of self. Continued living in a place to which they had long-term connections and had invested 3.4.2. A Base for Community Participation. As home was considerable resources to attain, added to a sense of being known territory, it provided a base, a way to get out into the “anchored” to their living environment and having a place in wider community and return. When using home as a base to the world. Living in one’s own home also enabled in- go out and participate in activities in the community, home dividuals a sense of self-expression in that they were able to also became a link to making friends. *e importance of this style and decorate their homes in their own personal way. characteristic was reinforced by Maree when she said, “As *is is similar to the findings of Cristoforetti and colleagues [20] who highlighted the importance of showcasing be- you get older it is harder to make new friends.” For those who were still living in their long-term home, longings in the home as an extension of the self. Other they saw their established relationships as important to their research has similarly shown the relevance of objects of wellbeing and were reluctant to move away for fear of losing sentimental value in maintaining a connection with mem- them. However, those who had moved to new homes had ories of family, friends, and life events [18, 24]. made efforts to stay socially connected by establishing new *e concept of home was also closely associated with social contacts. having a sense of freedom for the older people in this study. Much of the way living at home facilitated community *ey described the sense of pride and competence that being participation had to do with the familiarity and confidence able to remain independent gave them, as well as the sat- isfaction of being able to self-manage their time and organize participants expressed in local options for transport and mobility. Mary and Kathy described how they were able to their days to suit themselves without outside interference. *ese findings are supported by Sixsmith and colleagues [39] stay in touch with their communities as their homes enabled access to familiar services which provided them with daily who similarly found that everyday life at home enabled options. Kathy said: “I like this area because I can go on my $1 adults over the age of 75 to continue to be engaged in ticket everywhere and there is so much to do.” Sally described purposeful meaningful action. her home as enabling her to stay in touch with others be- In addition, the older persons in this study expressed that cause, “it is convenient to everything.” *e location of their the concept of home represented comfort for them in that home to enable convenience to facilities and services close to they were able to have the things they needed for daily their home or located within the local community, including comfort around them arranged in ways that suited them. interests, activities, shops, and their GP, was noted as im- *ey also derived emotional comfort from the familiarity and stability of remaining in their own home as well as from portant. Alice described having the accessibility of these services from her home enabled her to stay in touch when the connection to happy memories that being in the home gave them. In addition, being at home enabled them to she said, “It is very convenient where I live to the shops, the buses and the trains.” Sarah similarly commented, “It is very access the outdoors and to have greater space than they convenient where I live, the shops, a doctor and a chemist and would have in institutionalized living arrangements. other supermarkets.” Furthermore, participants in the current study reported In summary, one of the four meanings of home formed that home was associated with the capacity to stay in touch from the responses of the older persons in this study was that with family and friends as well as local services and activities. living at home enabled them to stay in touch with their Living at home facilitated this ongoing connection both by its physical proximity to people with whom the older per- community. *rough living at home, participants were able to maintain stable relationships and remain socially con- sons had long-term relationships and by its familiarity, which enhanced confidence in being able to access transport nected to familiar support networks and services. Living in a familiar environment promoted an awareness of access to and local services. Bigonesse and colleagues [22] similarly found that social contacts among neighbours reinforced transport and other facilities, which provided a means to get out into the community to engage in social or other social ties among older adults and helped them to feel so- activities. cially supported. It may be that this aspect of familiarity with 8 Journal of Aging Research Since the participants in this study were relatively active, the local environment is particularly of importance as the driving capacity of older adults diminishes, reducing their having been recruited from a sample who had been par- ticipating in physical activity sessions at the Seniors Centre, capacity to engage with the local community. Studies have found that driving cessation is associated with almost it should also be noted that the perspectives of home dis- doubled risk of depression in older adults [40]. cussed in this article may not represent the points of view of Overall, the current study supported Oswald and Wahls’ less active older persons. [19] framework in which they argued that concepts of home Nevertheless, this study thus has important implications fell into five broad meaning categories: physical, behavioural, for the development of policy and practice around both cognitive, emotional, and social. “Anchoring self” in the supporting healthy ageing and in facilitating adjustment to new environments where unavoidable. By furthering the current study largely related to emotional and cognitive as- pects of the meaning of home, in that it was closely connected understanding of what home means to older adults, strat- egies can be developed for reinforcing the essential meaning with self-identity and a sense of stability. *e second meaning in the current study, “Freedom” related to behavioural and components of home throughout the changes associated with ageing, ensuring that programs are in place to support cognitive aspects in that it concerned the ability of individuals to stay independent and busy, although this was also asso- ongoing independence, self-management, and social con- ciated with emotional aspects in that it facilitated a sense of nection. Similarly, having a broad knowledge of the meaning pride and self-competence. Similarly, “Comfort” also de- of home to older adults can inform the implementation of scribed the emotional comfort in that living at home provided programs to smooth transitions to new living environments the opportunity to be surrounded by happy memories. *is in older adults by reinforcing elements of care that support aspect, however, also related strongly to the physical comforts independence and personalisation. Future research could also benefit from looking more closely at the strategies and of home. “Staying in touch” concerned both social and behavioural aspects, in that remaining at home enabled personal qualities that older people draw on in both sus- taining living at home and in adjusting to changed living people to stay connected with family and friends through physical proximity while also maintaining confidence in the circumstances. ability to negotiate mobility. *us, concepts of home in older adults are multifaceted, strongly connected to the physical Appendix location and surroundings, but having a deep impact on both emotions and the activities of daily life. *ese findings have A. Topic Guide relevance to policy development both for supporting those who remain living at home and to those who choose to re- Participant Introduction and Icebreaker Question locate to care accommodation. (i) “Introduce yourself and state where you live and why Nevertheless, it is not always possible or even advanta- you like living there.” geous for all older adults to remain living at home. For ex- ample, some older adults living alone can be at risk of social Opening Question isolation and difficulty coping with the physical demands of (i) “Tell me about the things that make it possible for you caring for one’s self [41]. Individuals with dementia who are to remain living in your home in the community?” living at home can also experience social disconnection and a lack of professional care to cope with psychological symptoms [42]. Despite the appeal to many of continuing to live in their Areas to Cover own homes and “ageing in place,” the current study was also (i) Home able to demonstrate that some aspects of home can be (ii) Community renegotiated despite a change in physical location. Partici- pants who had relocated from their long-term home had been (iii) Independence able to successfully adjust, reporting that their new envi- (iv) Health and wellbeing ronment now felt like home. *ey seemed able to do this (v) Resources because of the ability to retain some of the comforts of home (vi) Social network and personal possessions and the capacity to make new social connections, despite having to make some concessions to (vii) Support change. However, the ability to renegotiate a new environ- ment may be highly dependent upon the flexibility of the B. Interview Guide systems present in the new living environment in addition to the older person’s ability to adjust. Interviews 1–5 *e current study is limited by its geographical focus on (i) What are the most rewarding aspects of living in Western Sydney in Australia, the perspectives of which may your home? not always be applicable to other cultural groups or so- (ii) In what ways does your health enable you to live at cioeconomic demographics. Furthermore, participants in home? the current study may have been biased towards considering the concept of home from a positive perspective both by (iii) What do you think are your personal attributes cultural rhetoric and by the way questions were framed. (qualities) that enable you to stay living at home? Journal of Aging Research 9 [9] S. Mallett, “Understanding home: a critical review of the Interviews 6–10 literature,” 2e Sociological Review, vol. 52, no. 1, pp. 62–89, (i) What is it about your home that makes you want to stay living there? [10] K. Tryselius, E. Benzein, and C. Persson, “Ideas of home in palliative care research: a concept analysis,” Nursing Forum, (ii) What are the things that have helped you to stay vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 383–391, 2018. living there? [11] P. C. Kontos, “Resisting institutionalization: constructing old (iii) What are the things that sometimes make it difficult age and negotiating home,” Journal of Aging Studies, vol. 12, for you to live there? no. 2, pp. 167–184, 1998. (iv) What are some of the negative things about living at [12] D. Stones and J. Gullifer, “At home it’s just so much easier to home for you? be yourself’: older adults’ perceptions of ageing in place,” Ageing and Society, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 449–481, 2016. (v) What are some of the positive things about living at [13] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of population and housing: home for you? 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Exploring the Perspectives of Older People on the Concept of Home

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Copyright © 2019 Deborah Hatcher et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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10.1155/2019/2679680
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Abstract

Hindawi Journal of Aging Research Volume 2019, Article ID 2679680, 10 pages https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/2679680 Research Article Deborah Hatcher , Esther Chang, Virginia Schmied, and Sandra Garrido Western Sydney University, Sydney, NSW, Australia Correspondence should be addressed to Deborah Hatcher; d.hatcher@westernsydney.edu.au Received 28 November 2018; Revised 9 April 2019; Accepted 22 April 2019; Published 18 June 2019 Academic Editor: Jean-Francois Grosset Copyright © 2019 Deborah Hatcher et al. *is is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Objectives. Continuing to live at home is arguably one of the most important challenges older persons face as they age. *e aim of this study was to clarify how older adults conceptualise home through age-related lifestyle changes. Methods. Principles from grounded theory were used to examine the perspectives of 21 older adults obtained from three focus group discussions and 10 in- depth semistructured interviews. Results. Four major categories were developed: “anchoring self,” “enabling freedom,” “being comfortable,” and “staying in touch.” Discussion. For the participants in this study remaining at home enabled a sense of in- dependence and freedom, self-worth and identity, comfort, and an ongoing active role in the community. However, some aspects of home could be renegotiated despite changes to living location, with new social connections able to be forged and personal comforts being transferrable. *is holds important implications for supporting older persons to both sustain living at home and to adjust to changing circumstances, suggesting the importance of drawing on the experiences of older persons themselves in developing strategies to promote successful aging. perspectives of the older adults who participated in our 1. Background study, we follow Kontos’ definition [11] and use the term Countries around the globe are experiencing an increase in “home” in a broad sense to refer to a physical location in the proportion of their citizens that are aged 60 and over [1]. which the individual lives, “a space that is controlled by and Economically, an ageing population is associated with de- is uniquely the domain of the individual” (p. 179). creasing productivity and higher government spending Individuals report a preference for staying in their own [2, 3]. Part of this increased spending by governments relates homes rather than relocating to care accommodation as they to the provision of institutional aged care and other health age [12]. In Australia, 99% of people between the ages of 65 services [4]. *us, sustaining living at home for older people and 74 and 75% of people over the age of 85 were living in has become high on the agenda of governments in countries private dwellings in 2006 [13]. such as Australia and the UK [5, 6]. Older people tend to spend up to 72% of their time inside Home relates to both the spatial location in which one their homes [14], making the decision about where to live a resides and to social and psychological constructs [7, 8]. One crucial one. Being able to continue living at home assists the review of 49 articles found that the concept of home older person by providing a familiar environment within encompassed descriptions of the house itself along with which to contend with the challenges and changes to lifestyle discussions about family, the self, gender, the home as a that occur due to the ageing process. Home also often re- haven, and the idea of journeying [9]. Another study of the mains the one stable entity in the lives of the older person meaning of home in palliative care situations from the when everything else is changing. Living at home thus assists nursing literature similarly found that the concept involved older people to retain some control over their daily lives and attributes related to the physical location, as well as to an to maintain some independence and autonomy [15]. emotional environment [10]. In the current study, although Given the importance of the home environment to an older adult’s capacity to sustain independent living, much we focus on defining the concept of home from the 2 Journal of Aging Research Older persons are not a homogeneous group. *e way a research has explored the concept of home in terms of questions relating to the home’s usability, or safety [16], or in person adjusts and adapts to ageing is influenced by indi- vidual, biological, psychological, and social factors within adapting to the need for relocation. Johnson and Bibbo [17], for example, used a phenomenological approach to examine the economic and political context in which they live, as well the meaning of home in a group of eight older adults shortly as lifestyle, educational, and environmental factors [25]. after their relocation to nursing homes in the Midwest U.S. *us, the experience of ageing and adapting to the changes *ey reported that autonomy of decision-making about with which ageing is associated is highly individual. Despite where to live as well as actively changing their attitudes this, the subjective experience of older persons who remain strongly influenced the capacity for the participants to adapt in their homes during the ageing process has received comparatively little attention in the literature. Few studies to their new environment. *e concept of home for older adults has also been have compared the meaning of home between people who are able to remain in the family home and those who must explored from gerontological, environmental, and psycho- logical viewpoints [18]. Oswald and Wahl [19], for example, adjust to new locations. Nevertheless, to gain an accurate understanding of the issues older people face when con- took an environmental psychology perspective and focused on concepts related to attachment to place in 126 older sidering their living options, it is vital to explore the per- persons living at home in Germany. *ey found five global spectives of older persons themselves on the concept of meaning categories relating to the concept of attachment to home. home: physical, behavioural, cognitive, emotional, and *is study, therefore, aims to understand the phe- social. nomenon of older people living at home in Australia at a Another study focused on home as a “space” among personal level, from the perspective both of those living in their long-term family home and those who have adjusted to widows, showing that emotional attachments to “home” are multifaceted and are strongly influenced by personal con- newer living conditions in older age. *e study aims to clarify how older adults conceptualise home and provide a nection to place and relationships [20]. Barry and colleagues [21] performed a concept analysis of 49 published articles to perspective that can inform policy and practice to support continued living at home or successful transitions to care define a concept of home from older women living alone in the community. *ey found that to older women home was a accommodation in older adults. resource and an attachment that took an increasing effort to sustain, but that maintaining one’s capacity to stay living at 2. Method home was a cultural expectation. In other research, the concept of home has been explored *is study used focus groups and interviews conducted with with a view to understand the housing needs of older in- 21 older adults, drawing on principles of grounded theory dividuals. Bigonnesse and colleagues [22], for example, [26] in its approach to data collection and analysis. found that personal belongings that hold memories and Grounded theory is a qualitative method often used to in- bring comfort connect older persons to the physical space of vestigate an individual’s experience of a phenomenon and home. For some, a house itself can be a place of familial was followed in the current study in that we took an in- heritage and allows the individual to remain connected to ductive approach to exploring the research question, without the generations of family members who once lived within prior hypotheses [27]. *is approach has been widely used the walls [23]. across nursing and midwifery disciplines from pregnancy to Relationships and roles in the community are also an end of life care and has been successful in gaining knowledge integral part of the meaning of home and can provide se- about areas of limited understanding [28–30]. curity and comfort [24]. A sense of identity in the com- munity can result from friendly neighbours, nearby friends, and family and participation in volunteer roles or special 2.1. Participants and Recruitment. Both focus groups and interest groups [20]. Being forced to leave one’s home can interviews were used to collect data, following the model of sever important community connections and remove the Lambert and Loiselle [31]. Purposive sampling was used to intergenerational aspect of community living. recruit participants for the focus groups, and theoretical Understanding individual experiences of remaining at sampling (with the researcher using data previously col- home offers important perspectives that can inform ageing lected to determine where to next collect data) was used to policy and practice in residential and community aged care recruit interview participants, as is common in the practice to support ongoing independence in older adults. Fur- of grounded theory and will be described in more detail thermore, to understand the issues older people face when below [32]. Participants were recruited from a local gov- considering their housing options, it is vital to explore the ernment Seniors Centre in Western Sydney, Australia. In- feelings and beliefs of older people about the meaning home clusion criteria were as follows: (i) aged 65 or over; (ii) a has for them. However, as conditions relating to ageing at resident of Western Sydney NSW, Australia, (iii) currently home are experienced in highly individual ways and older living in their home for at least 12 months before the study, persons in the community include individuals with more (iv) English speaking, and (v) consented to participate in the than 40 years of collective generational experience, it can be study. difficult to address the phenomenon of sustaining living at Of the 21 participants in total, seven were married, 12 home comprehensively and holistically. widowed, one never married, and one divorced. Twelve Journal of Aging Research 3 female participant was interviewed in each group due to participants lived in a house, six in a unit and the other three in a town house, retirement village, and a duplex. *e length changing circumstances over time. of time participants had lived in their current dwelling ranged from 2.5–74 years. Almost all participants had lived 2.2. Data Collection. After obtaining ethics approval from in their current homes for at least 10 years, and some had the Western Sydney University Human Research Ethics lived there for more than 40 years. *e household compo- Committee and meeting with the Senior Centre’s co- sition included 12 living alone, five living with a partner, two ordinator, the researcher attended a forum for centre with their children, and two with a partner and children. members to explain details of the study. Potential partici- According to local census information, demographics were pants were told that the study related to exploring the relatively reflective of the population of older people living in concept of ageing and remaining living at home with a the study’s geographical area [33]. positive ageing focus. Participants were given both verbal and written information about the study and were given a chance to ask questions about the study. *ey were told that 2.1.1. Focus Groups. Purposive sampling was first used to they could take the information sheet and consent form develop focus groups which provided a broad collective away and think about participation. However, all those who perspective of the topic. *ree focus groups were conducted, volunteered wanted to sign up immediately. Older persons and participants were invited to participate following their who accepted the invitation to participate were personally attendance at regular classes at the Seniors Centre, including contacted via telephone within two days of the study to line dancing, exercise, and indoor bowls classes. Group 1 ascertain that they met the inclusion criteria. All volunteers consisted of three males and seven females, group 2 con- met the inclusion criteria. Written informed consent was sisted of six females, and group 3 consisted of four males. obtained from all participants prior to commencing the Same gender groups such as those in groups 2 and 3 were focus groups. used to account for gender-based differences in interaction Consistent with grounded theory, data collection and styles [34]. analysis proceeded in an iterative fashion that moved backwards and forwards from one level of analysis to an- other. Data collection commenced with a general approach 2.1.2. Interviews. Following the three focus groups, in- through focus group discussions. As the study progressed, terviews were conducted to provide an opportunity for data collection and analysis became more focused through exploration of topics that were difficult to cover in a group the individual interviews. *e concepts generated from this setting such as personal finances and health and to explore analysis were then used as the basis for questions for the individual perspectives in more depth. Recruitment for the individual interviews. Data collection ceased when theo- interviews occurred at the conclusion of each focus group. In retical saturation was reached, i.e., when no additional data total, 17 out of 20 focus group participants accepted the could be used to further develop the properties of a category invitation to participate in the individual interviews. Based [26]. on the preliminary concepts that emerged from the analysis of focus group data, nine older persons were recruited to be interviewed using theoretical sampling. *ese nine partici- 2.2.1. Focus Groups. Focus groups were conducted in a small pants were selected because they reflected a range of personal quiet room that was free from visual and outside distractions circumstances and variability in the strategies they used to with participants seated in a circular fashion behind tables. sustain their capacity to continue living at home. *ey also Discussions were audio recorded using a digital recorder. had various levels of good health and support, which allowed Biographical data were collected from each person by means for a wide exploration of circumstances. One other older of a Participant Personal Profile form, which collected in- person who was unable to attend a focus group also accepted formation about personal characteristics, education, occu- the invitation to be interviewed (n � 10). Pseudonyms were pation, retirement, income, housing, living arrangement, used, and personally identifying information was removed and support. Participants in each focus group were then from transcriptions to ensure participant confidentiality. welcomed and an introduction about the purpose of the Sampling was determined by the need to recruit a focus group given. A topic guide that had been developed participant who could provide the information necessary to based on the literature was used to prompt the discussions further develop the theory. In the first five interviews, four following Krueger and Casey’s [35] recommendation (see females over the age of 75 years living alone and one male Appendix A). Concept checking was performed by reading living with a family member were chosen as data showed the main points to participants for confirmation both during these participants had already put in place a number of and after data collection [36]. processes to enable continued living at home. In the second group of five interviews, the older persons selected for in- terview were chosen because their individual circumstances 2.2.2. Interviews. *e interviews were conducted using a had changed significantly and become more complex due to focused, open-ended, and semistructured interview guide to deteriorating health. *ese five participants had either prompt conversation [37]. *is approach enabled the re- moved out of their home into alternative accommodation or searcher to ensure coverage of essential topics while still were now living at home with higher levels of support. One allowing the interview to be largely directed by the 4 Journal of Aging Research participant (see Appendix B). Each interview gathered more have lived in the same place for 32 years,” and Sarah, “I have data on the developing categories, and the questions became lived there for 74 years.” *is longevity of domicile created strong and deep connections, resulting in a reluctance to more focused as the interviews progressed in order to obtain saturation of the developing categories. Data were collected, leave. Sarah described how she felt firmly anchored at home coded, and analysed to determine where to next collect data, and had “never ever thought about” living elsewhere. Rose as described below. similarly said: Of the nine participants (one interviewed twice), two chose to be interviewed in their own homes and one in a I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else . . .. I love my hostel. Another chose to be interviewed over the telephone at home and I lived there when I was married and I’ve never the retirement village. *e remaining interviews were had another home on my own . . .. I don’t want to leave it conducted at the Seniors Centre. All interviews were audio- and I can’t imagine going into a nursing home or a re- recorded using a digital recorder. tirement village or anything like that because it’s just, I suppose, just home to me. 2.3. Data Analysis. Data collection and analysis informed each other throughout the progress of the study [32]. Open 3.1.2. Personal Investment. *e investment of personal and coding was first conducted line by line on printed transcripts financial resources in obtaining one’s home further strengthened this sense of attachment to their home. As using a process that Strauss and Corbin described as mi- croanalysis. Initial codes were in vivo, that is, in the words of Irene stated: the older persons. Later in analysis, axial coding was used in which codes were conceptualised and initial in vivo codes Well, why give up a home when I’ve fought so hard to get were further developed into categories by grouping of similar it? I had to pay for the place myself . . .. I have lived in the concepts and exploration of relationships between the codes. house for 40 years and I don’t want to shift . . . I’ve got no Constant comparison was used, with all new data coded and intentions unless I have to of leaving. Maybe I’m too compared with previously collected data for similarities and determined. I think I’d die before leaving. differences. During this process, questions were continually asked of the data, diagrams were constructed and memos Others described how a part of them had gone into were written to assist with theoretical conception. In a third building and creating their home. As Peggy said: “We built our house.” Kathy further spoke about how she built a new level of analysis, selective coding was used to integrate data categories in formation and refinement of an overarching home to facilitate self-management of her chronic illness, taking responsibility for creating her own living circum- theory [38]. Guided by the Strauss and Corbin [32] approach, a storyline was written to define and explain the central stances as her needs changed. category and the relationship of all categories. 3.1.3. Sense of Identity and Place in the World. For many, a 3. Results major reason that home provided a sense of anchorage for the self related to self-identity. *is concept was illustrated *e study revealed four major categories in the data that by the way older persons consistently made reference to their related to the perspectives of home of the older adults in this home as my home, implying a sense of identity through study: anchoring self, enabling freedom, being comfortable, ownership. A sense of the status and a place in the world that and staying in touch. *ese categories along with their is achieved by home ownership was also described. Sally subcategories will be discussed in more detail below (see said: “It is my home because I own it.” Table 1). Living in one’s home over a significant period of time also facilitated close connections with the local community, 3.1. Anchoring Self. *e determination to remain living at which further strengthened this sense of self-identity as home was evident for all older persons in this study. Home being attached to the location of the physical place of res- represented their past, present, and future and gave the idence. Living at home enabled the older persons to notion of “anchoring self,” as Jane described: “But one’s life maintain this sense of identity within their community as it gets locked into an area . . . your life gets locked up in the conveyed messages about them to others. *ese community things you create.” Within this concept of anchoring self, connections became even more evident when significant life four factors appeared to increase the sense of connection changes occurred, such as the death of a spouse. Jane de- that individuals felt with their home: (i) longevity of do- scribed this when she said: “2ose people [neighbours] had micile, (ii) personal investment in the home, (iii) the sense of known him [her husband] and that is very important to me, identity and place in the world that the home instilled, (iv) that I am not just me but that I was part of a double, part of somebody else.” and the facilitation of self-expression that having one’s own home provided. 3.1.4. Facilitation of Self-Expression. For others, creating a home was as simple as keeping mementos around the home 3.1.1. Longevity of Domicile. Most of the older persons had lived in the same home for a significant time such as John, “I as a reflection and expression of self. *is aspect was Journal of Aging Research 5 Table 1: *e meaning of home: categories and subcategories. Anchoring self Enabling freedom Being comfortable Staying in touch Personalize activities and self- Longevity of domicile Having things one needs Position close to family and friends manage time Base for participation in community Personal investment Purpose and reason to keep busy Good memories activities Sense of identity/place in the Familiarity, peace of mind and Independence in everyday tasks world stability Space for relaxation and Facilitating self-expression Lack of interference from others restoration illustrated when Ellen made reference to moving from house housework myself.” *e participants recognised that keeping busy and active would help them to maintain good health. to house throughout her adult years and creating a new home through decorating each new house with personal mementos. She expressed this as: “I can make a home 3.2.3. Independence in Everyday Tasks. Although the par- anywhere . . . Everybody has a few personal things that they ticipants varied in their ability to perform the tasks of ev- dearly love . . . I put up two paintings. 2at was home.” eryday living themselves, a range of benefits ensued from In summary, to the older persons in this study, home being independent, including a sense of self-pride and represented a place where they felt anchored and where they personal satisfaction through feelings of accomplishment. were able to create and maintain their self-identity despite Many expressed pride at their ability to live independently. the changes and challenges that occur with ageing. *is sense Anne and Rose both proudly stated, “I do all my own work.” of connection with their home made it difficult for many of Home gave them the freedom to do this, which might not be these older people to envisage living in alternative accom- possible if they relocated. modation. Home was presented as an extension of the person and extraction from their entrenched lives at home would mean leaving behind a part of themselves, losing their 3.2.4. Lack of Interference from Others. Independent living sense of self. enabled the freedom of not having to consider anyone else or contend with interference from others. *is freedom facil- 3.2. Enabling Freedom. *e meaning of home also itated autonomy and control in their planning of everyday encompassed being free of constraints. To many partici- living. Rose described her experience as: pants, home symbolised freedom as highlighted by Dan, “Because I am sure that living in my home, definitely, [means] I’m used to being on my own and when you’re on your more freedom.” *is freedom included (i) the ability to own you can do what you like, you can eat what you like, personalize activities and self-manage time, (ii) having a you can go to bed and get up when you feel like it . . .. I like purpose and reasons to keep busy, (iii) performing the tasks to be able to do things my way. If you’ve got me living with of everyday living independently, and (iv) not having to anyone they say well you do so and so and they might do it contend with interference from others. different to what I would do it . . . I just feel happy living in my own home . . .. Doing what I want to do and doing it when I feel like doing it. 3.2.1. Personalize Activities and Self-Manage Time. Home offered the older persons a known territory and a familiar It was felt that the sense of freedom and independence environment in which they retained self-determination in gained from living at home would be lost with moving out of deciding how they would go about their everyday living. home. Irene revealed this concern when she said, “I’m too *us, living at home afforded people the freedom to per- attached to my home . . . I’m used to being independent and I sonalize their daily activities and self-manage their time. don’t think I could confine down to regulations and rules.” Rose expressed this freedom saying: “Because it is home and I Tim, who was interviewed both before and after moving to a can do what I like.” Irene similarly identified the control she hostel commented on the loss to his freedom and in- maintains: “Come and go when you wish . . . without someone dependence after the move, saying: wanting you to do this or that.” *ey have fixed meal times here, so you can’t wander 3.2.2. Purpose and Reason to Keep Busy. Living in- down any old time. . . On your own you might say, “Oh, dependently in one’s own home necessitates a certain I’ll have something early,” or “I’ll have it later” . . . I’m amount of work in order to care for oneself and the home. used to sort of going out to the shops and doing a little bit *us, living at home gave individuals a degree of purpose in of shopping and now that’s a problem. life and a reason to keep busy. Irene expressed this as: “I feed my cat and look after that, keep the house tidy in general and I In summary, home as a place for freedom was one of the most important meanings of home emerging from the data. see that the raking up’s done out in the garden.” Sarah said: “I do my own cooking and things like that . . . I do all my Older persons described having a choice in making decisions 6 Journal of Aging Research the children when they were small. . . When they [children] all about everyday activities, as well as the capacity to live independently and to keep busy with the tasks of everyday married and had their own homes, they call my place home.” living. *is not only resulted in great pride and personal satisfaction but also enabled them to live without the in- 3.3.3. Familiarity, Peace of Mind, and Stability. *e idea of terference of others. familiarity also seems to underpin the concept of comfort in the older persons in this study. Having comfort at home was 3.3. Being Comfortable. A third subcategory emerging from also expressed as having peace of mind and a sense of the responses of the older persons as they described the competence through living in a familiar environment. Ellen meaning of home was that home was a source of emotional illustrated this when she said, “I know where things are so and physical comfort. Comfort was derived from (i) having that’s a big plus . . . It’s familiar.” Rose similarly said, “I’m things one needs, (ii) the good memories associated with comfortable . . . I know where everything is that I need . . . even home, (iii) the familiar territory providing peace of mind if I didn’t have my fairly good eyesight I would still be able to and stability, and (iv) having a space for relaxation and get around.” *is familiarity evidently added to a sense of restoration. happiness and wellbeing in participants. As Peggy stated, “I have been there [home] for about 50 years now and I enjoy it.” 3.3.1. Having 2ings One Needs. Ellen spoke of the con- tentment derived from living at home when she said, “It’s 3.3.4. Space for Relaxation and Restoration. Living at home very comfortable. We’re here together . . . Our home is very and having access to their own garden also provided par- important to us . . . I think we’ve got everything we want in ticipants with a comfortable place for relaxation. Sally said, this house.” Marjorie echoed Ellen’s comments when she “It’s a sort of relaxation to go down there [garden].” For some, said, “I’ve got everything there that I want.” Tim similarly their garden had become a haven to unwind and a place to stated, take things easy. Irene described her experience as: “You forget your worries I reckon when you go outside.” She also I had all my stuff there, and it’s organised comfortably stated, “I like space . . . would hate to live in a room. I like my with comfortable chairs and a good bed and everything. . . backyard.” you’ve got everything, when I’d arranged everything the Being able to use home as a place for revival and res- way I wanted. toration when returning home after engaging with others in the community was also a way of being comfortable. Ellen Interestingly, “comfort” was one of the meanings of described being at home between activities and social out- home that older persons were able to renegotiate after re- ings as: “You stay at home to catch your breath.” location. Although only a few older persons had moved out In summary, being comfortable was an important of their homes by the conclusion of the study, all had subcategory describing the meaning of home emerging from managed to find comfort through having familiar things the responses of older persons in this study. Living at home around them. After relocating to a hostel, Tim was able to provided emotional and physical comfort as home afforded state, “2is is my home . . . I’m comfortable here.” Referring to the physical comforts of having the things one needs or- her relocation to a retirement village, Maree similarly said: ganized as one pleased, connection with good memories, a “It’s very comfortable. . . happy to be here and it is, with all my peaceful space for relaxation and restoration, and peace of things around me, it’s just like my own home.” mind and stability through familiarity. 3.3.2. Good Memories. Older persons also found comfort 3.4. Staying in Touch. *e final subcategory which emerged from the many good memories their home generated. Home from the data was “staying in touch.” *e older persons was a place where they could reflect on happy times. Dan agreed that living at home (i) positioned them close to their spoke of these pleasant memories when he said, “You cannot family, friends, and neighbours and (ii) provided a base for deny at our age, our memories, still there is a lot [of memories participation in community activities and making new at] home . . . and everyone enjoys to see or to live or to tell friends. about his memories.” Some described home as a place where memories of their childhood, adulthood, and parenthood are held and embodied. Irene stated, “I have a lot of 3.4.1. Positioning Close to Family and Friends. *e con- memories . . . when no one’s here . . . I have a lot of thinking to sensus among the older persons in this study was that living do.” Sarah also described feeling comfort through reliving at home positioned them close to their family, friends, and fond childhood memories of the home where she still neighbours. In this way, home provided a support network and prevented isolation, allowing them to keep in contact resides. A few older persons also revealed that living at home with others. When describing her available support network Sarah stated, “My sister lives next door,” and Ellen referred to gave comfort to their adult children who now resided in their own homes. Rose, for example, described the happy her support as: “We have got our family around there. We got memories her home continues to give them. She stated that our interests all round this area . . .. It’s just in a good position home was “your comfort and your memories. . . memories of . . .. We’ve got a daughter down at (−).” Journal of Aging Research 7 *e older persons in this study all agreed that living at 4. Discussion home enabled them to maintain ties with people with whom *is study explored the experiences and perspectives of they had longstanding relationships. Living at home was older people living at home in Western Sydney, Australia. seen to facilitate staying in touch with others, as home and its community is known territory, and people get to know each Drawing on principles of grounded theory, focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted with 21 different par- other over time. Marjorie explained the meaning attached to these relationships with others over time when she said: ticipants about the concept of home and what it means to them. *e study was able to gain the perspective both of *e people around here, the neighbours around me, we’ve those who were living in their long-term family home, and those who had adjusted to newer living environments in all been together there . . . since 1950 . . . *e majority of them are the same but we’ve got some new neighbours later life. *e data revealed that for the older persons in this study, and they’re up the top end of the street and you wouldn’t home was the centre of their everyday living and was critical even know their name . . . but the ones down where we to maintaining independence, comfort, and freedom. Home are, there’s only about six or eight houses, they all pitch in was pivotal to the older persons self-identity and as such and help one another. reflected their sense of self. Continued living in a place to which they had long-term connections and had invested 3.4.2. A Base for Community Participation. As home was considerable resources to attain, added to a sense of being known territory, it provided a base, a way to get out into the “anchored” to their living environment and having a place in wider community and return. When using home as a base to the world. Living in one’s own home also enabled in- go out and participate in activities in the community, home dividuals a sense of self-expression in that they were able to also became a link to making friends. *e importance of this style and decorate their homes in their own personal way. characteristic was reinforced by Maree when she said, “As *is is similar to the findings of Cristoforetti and colleagues [20] who highlighted the importance of showcasing be- you get older it is harder to make new friends.” For those who were still living in their long-term home, longings in the home as an extension of the self. Other they saw their established relationships as important to their research has similarly shown the relevance of objects of wellbeing and were reluctant to move away for fear of losing sentimental value in maintaining a connection with mem- them. However, those who had moved to new homes had ories of family, friends, and life events [18, 24]. made efforts to stay socially connected by establishing new *e concept of home was also closely associated with social contacts. having a sense of freedom for the older people in this study. Much of the way living at home facilitated community *ey described the sense of pride and competence that being participation had to do with the familiarity and confidence able to remain independent gave them, as well as the sat- isfaction of being able to self-manage their time and organize participants expressed in local options for transport and mobility. Mary and Kathy described how they were able to their days to suit themselves without outside interference. *ese findings are supported by Sixsmith and colleagues [39] stay in touch with their communities as their homes enabled access to familiar services which provided them with daily who similarly found that everyday life at home enabled options. Kathy said: “I like this area because I can go on my $1 adults over the age of 75 to continue to be engaged in ticket everywhere and there is so much to do.” Sally described purposeful meaningful action. her home as enabling her to stay in touch with others be- In addition, the older persons in this study expressed that cause, “it is convenient to everything.” *e location of their the concept of home represented comfort for them in that home to enable convenience to facilities and services close to they were able to have the things they needed for daily their home or located within the local community, including comfort around them arranged in ways that suited them. interests, activities, shops, and their GP, was noted as im- *ey also derived emotional comfort from the familiarity and stability of remaining in their own home as well as from portant. Alice described having the accessibility of these services from her home enabled her to stay in touch when the connection to happy memories that being in the home gave them. In addition, being at home enabled them to she said, “It is very convenient where I live to the shops, the buses and the trains.” Sarah similarly commented, “It is very access the outdoors and to have greater space than they convenient where I live, the shops, a doctor and a chemist and would have in institutionalized living arrangements. other supermarkets.” Furthermore, participants in the current study reported In summary, one of the four meanings of home formed that home was associated with the capacity to stay in touch from the responses of the older persons in this study was that with family and friends as well as local services and activities. living at home enabled them to stay in touch with their Living at home facilitated this ongoing connection both by its physical proximity to people with whom the older per- community. *rough living at home, participants were able to maintain stable relationships and remain socially con- sons had long-term relationships and by its familiarity, which enhanced confidence in being able to access transport nected to familiar support networks and services. Living in a familiar environment promoted an awareness of access to and local services. Bigonesse and colleagues [22] similarly found that social contacts among neighbours reinforced transport and other facilities, which provided a means to get out into the community to engage in social or other social ties among older adults and helped them to feel so- activities. cially supported. It may be that this aspect of familiarity with 8 Journal of Aging Research Since the participants in this study were relatively active, the local environment is particularly of importance as the driving capacity of older adults diminishes, reducing their having been recruited from a sample who had been par- ticipating in physical activity sessions at the Seniors Centre, capacity to engage with the local community. Studies have found that driving cessation is associated with almost it should also be noted that the perspectives of home dis- doubled risk of depression in older adults [40]. cussed in this article may not represent the points of view of Overall, the current study supported Oswald and Wahls’ less active older persons. [19] framework in which they argued that concepts of home Nevertheless, this study thus has important implications fell into five broad meaning categories: physical, behavioural, for the development of policy and practice around both cognitive, emotional, and social. “Anchoring self” in the supporting healthy ageing and in facilitating adjustment to new environments where unavoidable. By furthering the current study largely related to emotional and cognitive as- pects of the meaning of home, in that it was closely connected understanding of what home means to older adults, strat- egies can be developed for reinforcing the essential meaning with self-identity and a sense of stability. *e second meaning in the current study, “Freedom” related to behavioural and components of home throughout the changes associated with ageing, ensuring that programs are in place to support cognitive aspects in that it concerned the ability of individuals to stay independent and busy, although this was also asso- ongoing independence, self-management, and social con- ciated with emotional aspects in that it facilitated a sense of nection. Similarly, having a broad knowledge of the meaning pride and self-competence. Similarly, “Comfort” also de- of home to older adults can inform the implementation of scribed the emotional comfort in that living at home provided programs to smooth transitions to new living environments the opportunity to be surrounded by happy memories. *is in older adults by reinforcing elements of care that support aspect, however, also related strongly to the physical comforts independence and personalisation. Future research could also benefit from looking more closely at the strategies and of home. “Staying in touch” concerned both social and behavioural aspects, in that remaining at home enabled personal qualities that older people draw on in both sus- taining living at home and in adjusting to changed living people to stay connected with family and friends through physical proximity while also maintaining confidence in the circumstances. ability to negotiate mobility. *us, concepts of home in older adults are multifaceted, strongly connected to the physical Appendix location and surroundings, but having a deep impact on both emotions and the activities of daily life. *ese findings have A. Topic Guide relevance to policy development both for supporting those who remain living at home and to those who choose to re- Participant Introduction and Icebreaker Question locate to care accommodation. (i) “Introduce yourself and state where you live and why Nevertheless, it is not always possible or even advanta- you like living there.” geous for all older adults to remain living at home. For ex- ample, some older adults living alone can be at risk of social Opening Question isolation and difficulty coping with the physical demands of (i) “Tell me about the things that make it possible for you caring for one’s self [41]. Individuals with dementia who are to remain living in your home in the community?” living at home can also experience social disconnection and a lack of professional care to cope with psychological symptoms [42]. Despite the appeal to many of continuing to live in their Areas to Cover own homes and “ageing in place,” the current study was also (i) Home able to demonstrate that some aspects of home can be (ii) Community renegotiated despite a change in physical location. Partici- pants who had relocated from their long-term home had been (iii) Independence able to successfully adjust, reporting that their new envi- (iv) Health and wellbeing ronment now felt like home. *ey seemed able to do this (v) Resources because of the ability to retain some of the comforts of home (vi) Social network and personal possessions and the capacity to make new social connections, despite having to make some concessions to (vii) Support change. However, the ability to renegotiate a new environ- ment may be highly dependent upon the flexibility of the B. Interview Guide systems present in the new living environment in addition to the older person’s ability to adjust. Interviews 1–5 *e current study is limited by its geographical focus on (i) What are the most rewarding aspects of living in Western Sydney in Australia, the perspectives of which may your home? not always be applicable to other cultural groups or so- (ii) In what ways does your health enable you to live at cioeconomic demographics. Furthermore, participants in home? the current study may have been biased towards considering the concept of home from a positive perspective both by (iii) What do you think are your personal attributes cultural rhetoric and by the way questions were framed. (qualities) that enable you to stay living at home? Journal of Aging Research 9 [9] S. Mallett, “Understanding home: a critical review of the Interviews 6–10 literature,” 2e Sociological Review, vol. 52, no. 1, pp. 62–89, (i) What is it about your home that makes you want to stay living there? [10] K. Tryselius, E. Benzein, and C. 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