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Soc Sci Med. 2014 Apr;106:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.01.006. Epub 2014 Jan 21.

Healthy ageing and home: the perspectives of very old people in five European countries.

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University of Northampton, Park Campus, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, England; Simon Fraser University, Harbour Centre, West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Electronic address:
Gerontology Research Centre, Simon Fraser University, West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Sweden.
German Centre for Research on Ageing, University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), Joint Research Centre, European Commission, Seville, Spain; Institute for Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.
Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Sweden; Department of Rehabilitation, Riga Stradins University, Latvia.
Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


This paper reports on in-depth research, using a grounded theory approach, to examine the ways in which very old people perceive healthy ageing in the context of living alone at home within urban settings in five European countries. This qualitative study was part of a cross-national project entitled ENABLE-AGE which examined the relationship between home and healthy ageing. Interviews explored the notion of healthy ageing, the meaning and importance of home, conceptualisations of independence and autonomy and links between healthy ageing and home. Data analysis identified five ways in which older people constructed healthy ageing: home and keeping active; managing lifestyles, health and illness; balancing social life; and balancing material and financial circumstances. Older people reflected on their everyday lives at home in terms of being engaged in purposeful, meaningful action and evaluated healthy ageing in relation to the symbolic and practical affordances of the home, contextualised within constructions of their national context. The research suggests that older people perceive healthy ageing as an active achievement, created through individual, personal effort and supported through social ties despite the health, financial and social decline associated with growing older. The physicality and spatiality of home provided the context for establishing and evaluating the notion of healthy ageing, whilst the experienced relationship between home, life history and identity created a meaningful space within which healthy ageing was negotiated.


Active ageing; Autonomy; Gender; Healthy ageing; Home; Independence; Qualitative

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