Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 139523, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/139523
Research Article

Older People and Social Connectedness: How Place and Activities Keep People Engaged

1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 3333 California Street, Suite 335, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
2Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, 3333 California Street, Suite 455, San Francisco, CA 94143-0612, USA
3Community Track Program, Department of Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Behavior and Society, 624 N. Broadway, HH 753, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
4Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 3333 California Street, Suite 485, San Francisco, CA 94143-0850, USA

Received 10 June 2011; Revised 2 November 2011; Accepted 4 November 2011

Academic Editor: Frank Oswald

Copyright © 2012 Irene H. Yen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

To understand how older adults perceive and navigate their neighborhoods, we examined the implications of activity in their neighborhoods for their health. We interviewed 38 adults (ages 62–85) who lived in San Francisco or Oakland, California. Seven key themes emerged: (1) people express a wide range of expectations for neighborliness, from “we do not bother each other” to “we have keys to each other’s houses”, (2) social distance between “other” people impede a sense of connection, (3) ethnic differences in living arrangements affect activities and activity locations, (4) people try to stay busy, (5) people able to leave their homes do many activities outside their immediate residential neighborhoods, (6) access to a car is a necessity for most, and (7) it is unusual to plan for the future when mobility might become limited. Multiple locations influence older adults’ health, including residential neighborhoods. Older adults value mobility, active lives, and social connections.