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All the things I have - handling one’s material room in old age
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Division of Health, Activity and Care. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2014 (English)In: Journal of Aging Studies, ISSN 0890-4065, E-ISSN 1879-193X, Vol. 31, 110-118 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article explores how old people who live in their ordinary home, reason and act regarding their ‘material room’ (technical objects, such as household appliances, communication tools and things, such as furniture, personal belongings, gadgets, books, paintings, and memorabilia). The interest is in how they, as a consequence of their aging, look at acquiring new objects and phasing out older objects from the home. This is a broader approach than in most other studies of how old people relate to materiality in which attention is mostly paid either to adjustments to the physical environment or to the importance of personal possessions. In the latter cases, the focus is on downsizing processes (e.g. household disbandment or casser maison) in connection with a move to smaller accommodation or to a nursing home. The article is based on a study in which thirteen older people (median age 87), living in a Swedish town of medium size were interviewed (2012) for a third time. The questions concerned the need and desire for new objects, replacement of broken objects, sorting out the home or elsewhere, most cherished possessions, and the role of family members such as children and grandchildren. The results reveal the complexity of how one handles the material room. Most evident is the participants' reluctance to acquire new objects or even to replace broken things. Nearly all of them had considered, but few had started, a process of sorting out objects. These standpoints in combination resulted in a relatively intact material room, which was motivated by an ambition to simplify daily life or to facilitate the approaching dissolution of the home. Some objects of special value and other cherished objects materialized the connections between generations within a family. Some participants wanted to spare their children the burden of having to decide on what to do with their possessions. Others (mostly men), on the contrary, relied on their children to do the sorting out after they had died.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014. Vol. 31, 110-118 p.
Keyword [en]
old age, agency, disbandment of home, generational links, cherished possessions
National Category
Gerontology, specializing in Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112218DOI: 10.1016/j.jaging.2014.09.004ISI: 000345807500013OAI: diva2:764351
Available from: 2014-11-19 Created: 2014-11-19 Last updated: 2015-10-23Bibliographically approved

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Larsson Ranada, ÅsaHagberg, Jan-Erik
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Division of Health, Activity and CareFaculty of Health SciencesNISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later LifeFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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Journal of Aging Studies
Gerontology, specializing in Medical and Health Sciences

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