The Environment for Aging: Interpersonal, Social, and Spatial Contexts

The Environment for Aging: Interpersonal, Social, and Spatial Contexts

The Environment for Aging: Interpersonal, Social, and Spatial Contexts

The Environment for Aging: Interpersonal, Social, and Spatial Contexts

Synopsis

A sociological study based upon research on the residential patterns of older people in American metropolitan areas. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Excerpt

Aging is a complex and varied experience, influenced by the social context in which it takes place. Riley has noted: "There is no pure process of aging--the ways in which children enter kindergarten, or adolescents move into adulthood, or older people retire are not preordained. in this view, the life course is not fixed, but widely flexible" (1978:41). This statement reminds us that the nature and consequences of aging are shaped by many factors and that there will be variability within the older population in the nature and implications of these factors.

The research reported in this book addresses several dimensions of the complex aging experience. Most generally, it explores the influence of "environment," both physical and social, on the lives of older individuals. Several aspects of this environment are highlighted: (1) residential location and neighborhood context, (2) informal networks and social supports, and (3) images of aging as these are reflected in attitudes toward aging and personal orientations to age and age peers. These are linked to the quality of life of older people, as reflected in their subjective feelings of well-being.

The environmental dimensions noted above are quite wide ranging, of course, and the links among them may at first glance seem rather tenuous. Their confluence here can perhaps best be explained by describing the history of this research project. the collaboration began a number of years ago with our interest in the residential patterns of the older population. Specifically, we wished to find out whether housing was segregated on the basis of age as it is on the basis of race and other social characteristics. When we found that it was, we be-

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