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Health Place. 2016 Sep;41:58-66. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2016.07.002. Epub 2016 Aug 20.

Where does the neighborhood go? Trust, social engagement, and health among older adults in Baltimore City.

Author information

  • 1Department of Community & Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Agricultural Hall, Room 340A, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, United States. Electronic address: garoon@wisc.edu.
  • 2Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 4432 Sewell Social Sciences, Madison, WI 53706, United States. Electronic address: mengelman@ssc.wisc.edu.
  • 3Department of Community-Public Health, School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, 525 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, United States. Electronic address: lgitlin1@jhu.edu.
  • 4Department of Community-Public Health, School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, 525 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, United States. Electronic address: Sszanto1@jhu.edu.

Abstract

Trust is often cited as a necessary predecessor of social engagement, and a public-health good. We question those suppositions through analysis of the life histories of lower-income older adults aging in place in Baltimore. These people desired to continue living independently, but also expressed a complex mix of trust and mistrust in their neighbors, neighborhoods, and broader environments. This was the product of interrelated processes of multilevel physical and social changes over time and space - and, we argue, often featured a "healthy mistrust" that pushed participants to pursue personally meaningful forms of social engagement, whether new or continued.

KEYWORDS:

Aging; Neighborhood; Physical limitations; Social engagement; Trust

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