Ageing in the margins: Expectations of and struggles for 'a good place to grow old' among low-income older Minnesotans

Jessica M. Finlay, Joseph E. Gaugler, Robert L. Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


What constitutes a 'good place to grow old'? This study aimed to characterise salient features of built and social environments that are essential to support low-income ageing residents. Seated and mobile interviews were conducted with community-dwelling older participants (aged 55-92, mean = 71 years) in three distinct socio-economic and geographic samples of the Minneapolis (Minnesota, United States of America) metropolitan area. 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. Analyses of the empirical data complicate theoretical assumptions by recognising unequal access to, irregular opportunities for and potential dangers of 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-783
Number of pages25
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support. This research was supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation (grant number 1558577).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Cambridge University Press.


  • ageing in place
  • geographical gerontology
  • housing
  • place attachment
  • poverty
  • qualitative interviews


Dive into the research topics of 'Ageing in the margins: Expectations of and struggles for 'a good place to grow old' among low-income older Minnesotans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this