The Uncertain Bodies and Spaces of Aging in Place

Anthropology & Aging Quarterly Volume 34, issue 3 (September 2013) pp.113-125

The Uncertain Bodies and Spaces of Aging in Place

Lauren Penney

School of Anthropology, University of Arizona

Download full PDF here: AAQ34(3)PENNEY


In the United States, “aging in place” has been established as the preferred method of aging. This article examines the work, processes, and tensions involved in aging in place in the southwest US, focusing on the experiences of chronically ill older adults receiving Medicare-reimbursed home health care. Based on an in depth ethnography, it  examines the resources and work that go into aging in place amid uncertainty, and highlights how processes related to the integration of person and place are negotiated and contested between older adults, family members, and home health nurses. Drawing on definitions of place from geography, I argue that aging in place should be understood using a processual lens to highlight the ways that health regimes aimed at facilitating aging in place can, at times, reinforce and introduce sense of bodily risk, shift embodiment and daily practice, and require negotiations among household members. I also point to the difficulties people face in maintaining aging in place when supports are lacking and futures uncertain.

Keywords: place, home care, medicalization, United States


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