RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016

RGS-IBG Logo

162 Everyday geographies of ageing (1): (im)mobility, independence and ageing ‘well’
Affiliation Geographies of Health and Wellbeing Research Group
Convenor(s) Emma Street (University of Reading, UK)
Justin Spinney (Cardiff University, UK)
Tim Jones (Oxford Brookes University, UK)
Chair(s) Justin Spinney (Cardiff University, UK)
Timetable Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Session abstract In a recent review paper, Skinner et al (2015) reflect on 15 years of progress in the development of ‘geographies of ageing’. While optimistic about the state of the field, they question whether geographers are missing a ‘crucial opportunity to inform understanding of the processes and outcomes, performances and representations of ageing’ endures (ibid: 777). Informing these issues first requires more critical research directed towards the everyday realities or lived experiences of ageing. In this session we focus on the interface between the so-called ‘wellbeing agenda’ – an inter-disciplinary policy agenda placing responsibility on individuals to ‘age well’ - and personal experiences of (im)mobility. The latter is recognized as a determinant of older adults’ ability to retain independence (Nordbakke and Schwanen, 2014) - itself an important component of wellbeing. Mobility experiences are highly relational, shaped by numerous factors including (for example) individual physical (in)capacities; awareness of (and sensitivity towards) personal risk and safety; and the quality, type, scale and accessibility of local transport systems. We invite papers that explore these relationalities and their impact upon wellbeing. We are particularly interested in papers that consider the ways in which ageing mobilities are experienced spatially at both at the micro-scale and as part of wider social, regulatory and environmental contexts.

Linked Sessions Everyday geographies of ageing (2): pressing issues and future agendas
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
From transport and utility to understanding mobility and wellbeing as we age
Charles Musselwhite (Swansea University, UK)
There is a recognition that mobility is multi-dimensional and the traditional view of transport as stemming from engineering and economics is inappropriately narrow and reductionalist. At the same time a shift away from simple notions of ageing as disengagement or activity theory, to a more complex critical gerontology is occurring. However, applied research into transport and ageing can still suffer from a lack of epistemological interrogation and a resulting lack of understanding with regards to the diversity of both mobilities and of ageing. Indeed, interventions in policy and practice to improve mobility for older people are also similarly utilitarian in nature and over emphasise older people have mobility problems that need to be solved. This presentation will reflect on my 16 years as a researcher into ageing and mobility and the need and importance to embrace the multi-faceted nature of mobility and the heterogeneous nature of older people. This results in new questions and a new focus, centred on individuals and the connections within society and to their past. It suggests a need to concentrate on the affective nature of mobility and subjective wellbeing not just on mobility as a need to get from A to B.

Living in the moment or experiences of a lifetime? Considering environmental influences past, present and future on mobility in older age
Catharine Ward Thompson (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Chris Neale (The University of York, UK)
Richard Coyne (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Peter Aspinall (Heriot Watt University, UK)
Neil Thin (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Iain Scott (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Jenny Roe (University of Virginia, USA)
Ian Deary (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Gillian Mead (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Anthea Tinker (King’s College London, UK)
John Starr (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Katherine Brookfield (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Caroline Lancaster (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Mark Cherrie (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Catherine Tisch (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Jamie Pearce (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Niamh Shortt (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Sara Tilley (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Steve Cinderby (University of York, UK)
Our research examines the ways in which experience of the environment influences mobility in old age. It focuses on varying time frames within which environment might play a role, from the influence of local places in which people have lived and worked throughout their lives to the instant response to places encountered for the first time. The focus is on outdoor environments, moving beyond consideration of barriers to mobility to study the positive qualities that encourage people to go out, remain active, and that give them pleasure into very old age. Our methods include data collected around very different timescales. The first considers environmental data over the life-course of a cohort of people born in 1936. Analysis of environmental influences close to people's homes and workplaces enable a longitudinal examination of environmental influences on health and mobility in old age. The second method uses mobile EEG recording to measure neural activity for older participants walking in different urban environments, ranging from busy streets to green open space and, combined with participants' self-reported experiences, offer insights into the experience of mobility in old age. Finally, using co-design approaches, we invite participants to consider future environments to support mobility in older age.

The Everyday Mobilities of Care
Katia Attuyer (University of York, UK)
Rose Gilroy (Newcastle University, UK)
Karen Croucher (The University of York, UK)
Mark Bevan (University of York, UK)
This paper discusses the notion of "mobilities of care". By "mobilities of care" we mean journeys made for the purpose of giving and receiving informal care and support (i.e not as part of any formal organised structure such as volunteering, or formal "paid" care), practices and interactions that can be seen as defining elements of any close and meaningful relationships. The discussion draws on the experiences of almost 100 older people who participated in a qualitative longitudinal study exploring well-being, ageing, and mobility. As the study progressed and individual narratives of mobility over time emerged, it became clear that for many older people reasons for "getting out and about" were often related to caring for, and supporting, non co-resident "others" including family members but also friends and others within social networks. These journeys are imbued with a variety of meanings, including a reflection of life transitions both of individuals and of their wider social networks, as well as a representation of established identities and relationships (parent, child, loyal friend), and demonstrations of love, affection, and duty. Thus far this issue seems to have been under explored in the literatures of care as well as those of mobilities. Narratives of positive ageing emphasise the importance of being socially connected, of getting out and about to engage with the world. Our study demonstrates that for many older people, getting out and about is not just for leisure or utility purposes but for purpose of giving (and receiving) support and care. As such these journeys have a particular significance in the lives of older people and in the construction of roles, meaning, and identity in later life; not least the ambivalence of mobilities of care in relation to perceptions of well-being.
Ageing-in-place and the everyday becomings of caring neighbourhood networks
Bettina van Hoven (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
Debbie Lager (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
The increasing costs of population ageing poses challenges to caring for the older population. In order to delay and decrease older adults' reliance of expensive institutionalised care, community-based care and ageing-in-place policies have been implemented by many Western governments. Given this 'changing topography of care' (Milligan and Wiles, 2010), the care for older people now extends beyond the health domain and has become the concern of a diverse range of actors, including neighbourhood residents and urban planners and designers. In this paper we seek to develop an actor-network theory (ANT) inspired logic of the 'caring' neighbourhood that does justice to the range of actants that care for/about those older people who 'age in place'. For this, we draw on various qualitative research projects on the subjective dimensions of ageing in place in the city of Groningen, the Netherlands. This research, that consists of in-depth interviews and walking interviews with older adults, draws attention to the diversity and fragility of the everyday becomings of caring neighbourhood networks in later life. Our findings point to the ethical and political responsibility we all have in caring for our older citizens.