Environment and identity in later life

Front Cover
Throughout life, our everyday interactions with material, social , and psychological environments influence our self identity: and ‘who we think we are’ influences how we behave in particular places. In later life, people bring to this relationship a lifetime’s experience that makes certain associations more or less important. This book explores the relationship between environment and identity for older people. Much has been written about the experiences of older people living in ‘special’ age-segregated settings. This book unusually involves the experience of men and women of different ages and cultures living in a range of different kinds of places, including ‘ordinary’ and ‘special’ housing - from a high-rise flat to a residential care home - in semi-rural, urban and metropolitan locations within the south midlands and south-east England. Through a detailed ethnographic study we hear older people talking in depth about their situations and experiences of space and place. This research enables us to appreciate how they manage their needs within the context of their whole lives. Many are able to achieve a ‘life of quality’ as they constantly engage and re-engage with their environment. Understanding this process allows greater clarification of what it means to move towards the end of life. The discussion of how environmental complexity influences people in developing and maintaining their own identity is essential for those involved in planning, designing, caring and supporting people as they age in 21st century Britain.

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Placing the self
Housing histories
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About the author (2006)

Sheila Peace is Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Welfare at the Open University. She is both a human geographer and a gerontologist with research interests in environment and ageing, residential care services and the regulation of care services. Sheila is a founder member with Leonie Kellaher of CESSA (Centre for Environment and Social Studies in Ageing), London Metropolitan University.

Leonie Kellaher is Director of CESSA. An anthropologist and gerontologist. Her most recent research included the ESRC funded study of ‘Cemetery as garden’.

Caroline Holland is a Research Associate in the School of Health and Social Welfare at the Open University where she undertook doctoral work on housing histories.She is also a geographer and gerontologist. She has previously worked with local authorities and housing associations, and her main research interests are housing, environment and the life course. Sheila Peace and Caroline Holland edited ‘Inclusive Housing in and Ageing Society' for Policy Press in 2001.