What constitutes a ‘good place to grow old’? This US study aimed to characterize salient features of built and social environments that are essential to support low-income ageing residents. The interviews prompted participants to evaluate their homes and neighbourhoods, and probed for particular socio-spatial characteristics that impact residential wellbeing.
Qualitative thematic analyses focused on 38 individuals living in subsidised housing and homeless shelters. Four interrelated themes encompassed essential residential qualities: (a) safety and comfort, (b) service access, (c) social connection, and (d) stimulation. These broad ideals, when achieved, enabled participants to cultivate residential wellbeing and fulfilling place attachment.
Rich descriptions of participant homelessness, health hazards, crime, lack of supportive infrastructure and social isolation illustrate how place attachment is not inherently positive or necessarily attainable; rather, it is problematic and can involve risk. This article extends geographical gerontology’s address of socio-spatial inequalities by focusing on disadvantaged ageing individuals.