Faculty Publications

Title

Late-Life Accumulation, Proliferation, and Stagnation of Home Contents: An In-Depth Qualitative Study of Ten Aging in Place Dwellers

Document Type

Article

Keywords

dispossession, Household disbandment, late-life decumulation, possession divestment, ridding of possessions

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Aging and Environment

Volume

35

Issue

2

First Page

161

Last Page

187

Abstract

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.

Department

School of Applied Human Sciences

Original Publication Date

1-1-2021

DOI of published version

10.1080/26892618.2020.1815922

Repository

UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa

Language

en

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