Title

Community Livability for Older Adults: Person-Place Relationship and Process

Start Time

22-10-2011 2:00 PM

End Time

22-10-2011 2:30 PM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

Intent: This paper presents a theoretical critique of how the “Livable Communities” concept has been used and researched to date and analyzes the policies and tools that have been developed in the last decade to promote livability. It further explores how being engaged in activity should underpin the concept of livability, and how Occupational Science theory and method could inform future research and conceptualization of community aging for older adults.

Argument: The concept of Livable Communities has been used to promote policy and planning efforts that support community living. This concept has evolved to describe a type of physical and socio-cultural environment that supports well being, especially for individuals who are vulnerable due to age and/or disability. Although it is being adopted across the United States, the concept has not been empirically validated. Current policy and intervention efforts in the United States are often grounded in generalized, urban-specific assumptions about what older adults need to age in place successfully; however exploratory studies suggest that the person-place relationship is a more complex negotiation process over time.

Importance to OS: Shaping communities for sufficient and meaningful engagement is an increasingly visible issue in the United States, as a large portion of the population ages in place. Theories of personplace relationships, and methodologies that emphasize engagement in activity, offer a more useful approach to conceptualizing ‘livability’ than the current policy approaches. Insights about engagement from empirical OS research could better inform the re-theorization of livability, thus positioning OS as a key voice in the current and future dialog about broad-based community design programs and aging-inplace policy. The discipline of OS stands to gain visibility, as well as benefit from research and theorization about engagement and person-place relationships and livability.

Conclusion: The concept of Livable Communities is embraced in health policy, but has not been systematically grounded in empirical evidence. A better understanding – particularly of the community contexts and experiences that represent livability for an aging population – is needed to develop policies and interventions that accurately address the dynamics of being engaged in occupation. Future theorization in this area should be based on research that focuses on the complex person-place relationship that is central to aging in place.

Discussion Objectives:

  1. Explore the relationship between ‘engagement in occupation’ and ‘livability’, and what current OS theory (activity theory, Transactionalism, etc.) might contribute to a re-theorization of Livable Communities
  2. Weigh specific methodologies that would examine the person-place relationship as a whole, including for populations other than older adults
  3. Discuss steps/needs for translating research insights from OS into the larger policy discourse.

References

AARP Public Policy Institute. (2005). Beyond 50.05–A Report to the Nation on Livable Communities: Creating Environments for Successful Aging. Washington, DC: AARP.

Cutchin, M.P. (2004). Using Deweyan philosophy to rename and reframe adaptation-to-environment. AJOT, 58, 303-312.

Gitlin LN. (2003). Conducting research on home environments: lessons learned and new directions. Gerontologist. 43, 628-637. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/geront/43.5.628

Heatwole Shank, K., & Cutchin, M. P. (2010).Transactional occupations of older women aging in place: Negotiating change and meaning. Journal of Occupational Science, 17, 4-13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2010.9686666

Plouffe, L., & Kalache, A. (2010). Determining Urban Features that promote health aging. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 87, 733-739.

Comments

Theoretical paper

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Oct 22nd, 2:00 PM Oct 22nd, 2:30 PM

Community Livability for Older Adults: Person-Place Relationship and Process

Intent: This paper presents a theoretical critique of how the “Livable Communities” concept has been used and researched to date and analyzes the policies and tools that have been developed in the last decade to promote livability. It further explores how being engaged in activity should underpin the concept of livability, and how Occupational Science theory and method could inform future research and conceptualization of community aging for older adults.

Argument: The concept of Livable Communities has been used to promote policy and planning efforts that support community living. This concept has evolved to describe a type of physical and socio-cultural environment that supports well being, especially for individuals who are vulnerable due to age and/or disability. Although it is being adopted across the United States, the concept has not been empirically validated. Current policy and intervention efforts in the United States are often grounded in generalized, urban-specific assumptions about what older adults need to age in place successfully; however exploratory studies suggest that the person-place relationship is a more complex negotiation process over time.

Importance to OS: Shaping communities for sufficient and meaningful engagement is an increasingly visible issue in the United States, as a large portion of the population ages in place. Theories of personplace relationships, and methodologies that emphasize engagement in activity, offer a more useful approach to conceptualizing ‘livability’ than the current policy approaches. Insights about engagement from empirical OS research could better inform the re-theorization of livability, thus positioning OS as a key voice in the current and future dialog about broad-based community design programs and aging-inplace policy. The discipline of OS stands to gain visibility, as well as benefit from research and theorization about engagement and person-place relationships and livability.

Conclusion: The concept of Livable Communities is embraced in health policy, but has not been systematically grounded in empirical evidence. A better understanding – particularly of the community contexts and experiences that represent livability for an aging population – is needed to develop policies and interventions that accurately address the dynamics of being engaged in occupation. Future theorization in this area should be based on research that focuses on the complex person-place relationship that is central to aging in place.

Discussion Objectives:

  1. Explore the relationship between ‘engagement in occupation’ and ‘livability’, and what current OS theory (activity theory, Transactionalism, etc.) might contribute to a re-theorization of Livable Communities
  2. Weigh specific methodologies that would examine the person-place relationship as a whole, including for populations other than older adults
  3. Discuss steps/needs for translating research insights from OS into the larger policy discourse.