Ageing in extra-care housing: preparation, persistence and self-management at the boundary between the third and fourth age
This longitudinal study of four extra-care housing schemes in the United Kingdom finds that the transition to the ‘fourth age’, the age of dependency, is complex and sometimes reversible. This transition can be both planned for and delayed by older people in extra-care housing. Older people in extra-care housing typically avoid any formal care provision until it becomes absolutely necessary.
Extra-care housing (ECH) has been hailed as a potential solution to some of the problems associated with traditional forms of social care, since it allows older people to live independently, while also having access to care and support if required. However, little longitudinal research has focused on the experiences of residents living in ECH, particularly in recent years. This paper reports on a longitudinal study of four ECH schemes in the United Kingdom.
Older residents living in ECH were interviewed four times over a two-year period to examine how changes in their care needs were encountered and negotiated by care workers, managers and residents themselves. This paper focuses on how residents managed their own changing care needs within the context of ECH. Drawing upon theories of the third and fourth age, the paper makes two arguments.
First, that transitions across the boundary between the third and fourth age are not always straightforward or irreversible and, moreover, can sometimes be resisted, planned-for and managed by older people. Second, that operational practices within ECH schemes can function to facilitate or impede residents’ attempts to manage this boundary.
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