This paper reports on in-depth research, using a grounded theory approach, to examine the ways in which very old people perceive healthy ageing in the context of living alone at home within urban settings in five European countries. This qualitative study was part of a cross-national project entitled ENABLE-AGE which examined the relationship between home and healthy ageing. Interviews explored the notion of healthy ageing, the meaning and importance of home, conceptualisations of independence and autonomy and links between healthy ageing and home. Data analysis identified five ways in which older people constructed healthy ageing: home and keeping active; managing lifestyles, health and illness; balancing social life; and balancing material and financial circumstances. Older people reflected on their everyday lives at home in terms of being engaged in purposeful, meaningful action and evaluated healthy ageing in relation to the symbolic and practical affordances of the home, contextualised within constructions of their national context. The research suggests that older people perceive healthy ageing as an active achievement, created through individual, personal effort and supported through social ties despite the health, financial and social decline associated with growing older. The physicality and spatiality of home provided the context for establishing and evaluating the notion of healthy ageing, whilst the experienced relationship between home, life history and identity created a meaningful space within which healthy ageing was negotiated.
- active ageing
- healthy ageing