On House and Home: The House as a Framework for Homing Practices

Conference: The European Conference on Aging & Gerontology (EGen2022)
Title: On House and Home: The House as a Framework for Homing Practices
Stream: Built Environment
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Jakob D'Herde, KU Leuven, Belgium
Hilde Heynen, KU Leuven, Belgium


Contemporary eldercare discussions often still neglect the agency of spatial constellations on ageing. Nevertheless, in Western Europe the house remains the space at the centre of the dominant ‘ageing in place’-paradigm. This paradigm promotes active ageing, a strategy aiming to keep older people actively involved in public life, and out of institutional care. Policymakers advocating for ageing in place often point to the wishes of older people themselves, who still mostly express the desire to continue living in their current place of residence for as long as possible. Many have lived in their house for a long time. However, the house is commonly equated to the more abstract concept of home, which romantically connotes familiarity, privacy, control and stability. A house and a home are two different concepts that may or may not coincide: a house is a physical, defined space, whereas a home is a negotiated, imagined space. The frequent mix-up of house and home clouds discussions on the suitability of a house as a supportive home environment for older people. In this presentation, we propose that the house be viewed as a framework for homing practices, facilitating or hindering older people’s sense of home. This presentation’s data stems from 25 qualitative in-depth interviews conducted in Flanders, Belgium, to explore how the house structured homemaking in later life. The results are part of a bigger research study exploring how older people negotiate and experience home in later life.

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