Late-Life Accumulation, Proliferation, and Stagnation of Home Contents: An In-Depth Qualitative Study of Ten Aging in Place Dwellers
dispossession, Household disbandment, late-life decumulation, possession divestment, ridding of possessions
Journal of Aging and Environment
Due to continued societal affluence, the households of many older people aging in place contain innumerable items, each with a complex story of origin, selection, and provenance. Excess possession accumulation can induce stress, create fall hazards, and impact indoor air quality. Often the burden passes to heirs who distribute or eliminate what is left behind after the death of the elder, an unpleasant task no matter the circumstances. Although academic discourse addresses the disbandment of households during late-life residential downsizing, issues related to accumulation and dispossession within the lives of people who continue to reside at home remain unexplored. The question, What is the collective cost of too much stuff? is a complex social issue for older people and their families, and one that requires additional research. This study reports possession management issues identified in a qualitative analysis of interviews with ten late-life older-old adults aging in place. Findings indicate that excess accumulation of possessions in a long-occupied home can lead to personal maladjustment and familial stress regarding eventual possession divestment. While future research must identify better strategies to alleviate the impact, this paper proposes active possession management as a necessary intervention in supporting older adults who age in place.
School of Applied Human Sciences
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
Stafford, Gloria E. and Carter, Heather Carlile, "Late-Life Accumulation, Proliferation, and Stagnation of Home Contents: An In-Depth Qualitative Study of Ten Aging in Place Dwellers" (2021). Faculty Publications. 193.