Challenges and supports to aging in place in a gentrifying context

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Background and Objectives: Neighborhoods play a critical role in healthy aging, with changes to neighborhoods having a profound impact on individuals’ ability to age in place. Using gentrification as an indicator of neighborhood change and applying the theoretical framework of the Environmental Press model, this study examines the relationship between changing environments, affordable housing, and environmental attributes that support and hinder the health and well-being of older adults. Research Design and Methods: This study used a qualitative, case-study approach to interview low-income, majority Black older adults in a gentrifying ward of Washington D.C. Thirty-two adults (16 in non-profit and 16 in for-profit affordable housing) aged 55 and older participated in semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analyzed using the framework method of analysis. Results: Despite perceiving gentrification, most participants desired to age in place. Many appreciated gentrification related improvements to the built environment but lamented its negative impact on social capital. By providing both proximity to physical amenities and a sense of stability, affordable housing promoted participants’ ability to age in place, though many expressed uncertainties over their long-term ability to do so. Discussion and Implications: This study suggests that while gentrification may improve physical amenities for older adults, its detrimental impact on social capital exacerbates their risk of social isolation. To better support older adults, this study calls for gentrifying areas to invest in affordable housing and promote interventions to preserve older adults’ social capital.






Kumar, Manish (2020). Challenges and supports to aging in place in a gentrifying context. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

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