Negotiating and defining home in the assisted living context: an examination of place-making, subjectivity and personhood

by Brittany Marie Chilton

Institution: California State University – Sacramento
Department: Anthropology
Degree: MA
Year: 2015
Keywords: Assisted living; Place-making; Place attachment; Personhood; Identity
Record ID: 2060122
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10211.3/139357


The difficult transition from ones home into an institutional setting is rising due to the current population of older adults who are living longer with chronic diseases and disabilities. The move from home into an institutional setting can be traumatic due to the deep emotional bond people attach to places. Our homes are tethered to our sense of self, identity and personhood, and they provide us a sense of familiarity and security. Thus, individuals??? ability to re-produce their sense of home in the assisted living facility (ALF) context is an important area of investigation. Further, an examination of the processes that make this transition easier and more difficult for individuals is equally important. Currently, there is a disjuncture between the promises of ???home??? advertised by the assisted living industry, and the realities experienced by the residents living within these settings. I found that while the reproduction of home is hard to come by in the ALF context, these settings do have the ability to provide familiarities of home, which can help individuals make successful transitions. Based on my findings, I argue that the assisted living industry should be more honest about the role of ???home??? in the ALF context so that residents know what to expect when they move into these communities. As a result, ALF residents will be able to create a more positive and truthful relationship with their new environment, and the people working within them.