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J Aging Stud. 2013 Apr;27(2):93-101. doi: 10.1016/j.jaging.2012.12.001. Epub 2013 Jan 11.

Care for place: the contributions older people make to their communities.

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  • 1School of Population Health, The University of Auckland, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.


Older people are often positioned as passive recipients of care and dependent on resources or as overly productive and active. In this paper, we seek a more nuanced, middle ground between such stereotypes, by exploring the question: what contributions do older people make to the places they live in? Drawing on qualitative research from Aotearoa New Zealand, involving focus groups and interviews, we examine the varied and active ways many older people are involved in and contribute to their neighbourhoods and communities, or what we term 'care for place'. In particular, we identify the different forms of older people's care for place, including volunteering, activism, advocacy, and nurturing, and consider how these efforts positively impact on older people and the communities in which they live. Whilst we caution against assumptions that all older people should be productively involved, we argue that greater understanding of older people's care for place is central to challenging stereotypes of older people as either passive and dependent, or highly active.

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