Ageing in place and spatial sustainability. Negotiating distance in eldercare

Ageing in place and spatial sustainability. Negotiating distance in eldercare

In many countries, including Belgium, demographic changes imply an increasing proportion of older people. Because the large majority of people will enjoy relatively good health into old age, inevitably also the proportion of frail older people is growing. This poses particular challenges as to the organization of care. It has become clear that institutionalization of care cannot be the main answer to face these challenges. In many Western countries therefore, policies are now oriented towards ageing-in-place as the preferred way to deal with eldercare. This preference is economically motivated, but is in line as well with the wishes of older persons themselves, who often abhor the idea that they would have to leave their home and living environment. Consequently, informal care is growing in importance, as well as the organization of formal services supporting informal care. Whereas ageing-in-place seems to be a preferred strategy from several points of view, this project raises questions with respect to the concrete implications of this policy. If ageing-in-place means that people stay on in unadapted dwellings in neighbourhoods that are not age-friendly, the risk is higher that they encounter a loss of residential comfort and of residential mastery. With many baby boomers living in suburban areas with few provisions (shops, heath care centres, etc.) and where residents are dependent on cars, the bridging of distances for everyday purposes can become a problem. The continued inhabitation of empty-nest dwellings, which are underused, moreover is contrary to principles of spatial efficiency. The scholarship on ageing population and required care in Western Countries is quite extensive and multidisciplinary in nature, because of the increased understanding of the complicated entanglements between social, economic, cultural, spatial and medical factors.

Phd student working on this project: Jakob D’herde

Supervision: Hilde Heynen & Wouters Bervoets

Categories: PhD projects