The Older Adult: Considerations and Learning to Age in Place
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology
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The process of aging independently in a current home can also be described as aging in place. Research has found that common concerns and limitations exist with many older adults as they make decisions on either modifying their current environment and/or support system or moving to a more accessible environment. Some older adults feel justified to search for alternate methods of independence while others are able to age in place successfully as desired. However, the importance of physical activity, as a factor for aging in place has been overlooked in the literature. The purpose of this study was to increase understanding of older adults’ learning, lifestyles, and effects on aging independently. Specifically, this study investigated older adult transfer of learning with the importance of physical activity and avoiding sedentary behavior with respect to aging in place. A mixed methods approach examined 10 older adults aged 65-88, that were contemplating aging in place in a mid-sized city in the Southeastern United States. Semi-structured interviews determined participants' perception of aging in place and physical activity impact on independence with aging. Accelerometers assessed levels of physical activity and sedentary behavior over 14 days. Themes arose from the interviews relating to physical activity. The positive outcomes of regular physical activity participation and aging in place were found to be interdependent. Interestingly, most participants were aware of the importance of physical activity, but did not specify physical activity as being a primary contributor for continued independence with aging. Accelerometer data revealed that participants spent on average, 96.7% of the day in sedentary behavior. The participants had equally undervalued perceptions of physical activity and abilities to age in place.