Aging in place: Perspectives across time and disciplines

W. A. Ramadhani, M. T. Harris, W. A. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose ‘Aging in place1 is often touted as being key to successful aging. It becomes the goal for multiple interventions and programs developed by researchers, designers, policymakers, care, and service providers from different fields. The term aging in place is understood as the ide-al, despite an absence of clear and consistent definitions across disciplines. The popularity of aging in place as terminology in research articles has increased between 1980 to 2010 (Vasunilashorn et al., 2012). It also appears in policy documents and the public press. By investigating the root and growth of aging in place terminology, we aim to understand how aging in place definitions have changed over time in different disciplines, providing a foundational understanding that can inform the development of interventions and technological supports for successful aging. Method We conducted a historical review across databases from architecture, anthropology, gerontology, medicine, psychology, and sociology to understand how the definition of aging in place has evolved throughout the decades. Articles that use the terminology "aging in place" or "ageing in place" in titles, abstracts, keywords, or subjects were included. Using the relevance sorting option in the databases, we selected the top five articles per decade per database to search in detail the definition of aging in place within the full article. For articles that cited other article's definition, we replaced them with the original article to ensure a historical use of the term and its meaning. From the article pool, we conducted a thematic analysis to identify the common themes among the definitions. Results and Discussion Based on historical research, we discovered that the number of aging in place-related publications increased across decades and disciplines. Some disciplines adopted the term earlier than others, with a wide range of interpretations of the meaning. From the thematic analysis, we learned that the influencing factors of aging in place are tied beyond the space despite its strong narrative of residential places. The personal and temporal factors also con-tribute to the aging experience, and hence influence the way aging in place is defined. When designing technology to support successful aging in place, different stakeholders from multiple fields should consider the intersectionality of person, space, and time aspects of aging in place. Based on the multiple perspectives of aging in place across times and disciplines, we concluded that achieving successful aging in place is more than a careful selection of residential location, but also awareness of the human capacity and the changes over the person's lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1s-1s
StatePublished - 2020


  • aging in place
  • definition
  • support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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