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Ageing and Mobility- Making the Connections



Abstract\ud \ud Spatial mobility in later life has received much attention by researchers and policy makers in recent years as part of discourses around active ageing and ageing independently. Here mobility is predominantly conceptualised in terms of its function for ensuring older people’s well-being and quality of life. It is therefore often seen as a “means to an end”, for instance in providing the individual with the capability to carry out independent activities of daily living. In this study, mobility was initially understood as movement through time and space. The data collection and analysis was based on the life course approach to environmental gerontology which allowed for the inclusion of temporal and spatial aspects of mobility in later life. This broad analysis is further expanded upon by participants’ own meanings of mobility which were elicited during focus group discussions and interviews to include physical and psychological aspects of mobility. As a result, in this participatory research project, older people’s discussions contributed to the expansion of the conceptualisation of mobility as fundamental to living, and consequently a broadening of the understanding of mobility in terms of a physical, social, psychological and spiritual engagement with the world. The nature of this engagement with the world is further analysed in terms of connectivities. These connectivities are developed over the life course and influence the way in which the older individual is able to relate to her or his social, structural and physical environment, and the resources that are available to the individual for coping with changes associated with ageing. I argue that changes in mobility and in the relationship between the ageing individual and the world are part of a dynamic interplay which supports continuity of identity and the self. But I also point to the limitations of current “decline” discourses of ageing which restrict the extent to which the ageing individual is able to make sense of the embodied experience of ageing and the continuity of the self in a coherent manner. This study shows that the inclusion of a transcendental or spiritual perspective into the life course approach would enable researchers and practitioners to emphasise the ageing individual’s resources for a positive future. \ud \u

Topics: Mobility, ageing, theory, life course, environments
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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