Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Polgar, Jan


In an age of globalization, the experience of aging in a foreign land is part of the late-life experience of many older adults. However, studies of aging and migration have largely failed to conceptualize the unique resettlement experiences of immigrants entering North America as older adults. This dissertation asked, “What is the experience of aging out-of-place?” Specifically, this research question aimed to understand how late-life immigrants relate to, and connect and engage with places through aging processes, and the essentiality of daily occupations within such engagement. An interpretive paradigm and a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology guided this inquiry. The hermeneutic phenomenological method informed by the work of van Manen (1990, 1997) informed the study processes. A phenomenological interview and a photo-elicitation interview were conducted with ten Sinhalese late-life immigrants who immigrated to Canada within the last 10 years. The essence of the aging out-of-place experience was captured through three essential themes. Late-life immigrants 1.) negotiate new and familiar ways of aging, 2.) mitigate loss through everyday occupation, and 3.) live between two worlds. Wilcock’s Occupational Perspective on Health (2006; 1998a) and the transactional perspective on occupation, informed by Dewey’s theory of transactionlism, were integrated in the discussion of this dissertation. From this work, I posit two key conclusions. First, late-life immigrants renegotiate ways of doing, being, becoming and belonging in the post-migration context. Second, late-life immigrants engage in continual transactions, through integrating elements from their past and present, within everyday occupations and places. By examining the nexus of ageing and immigration, this study addresses acknowledged gaps in literature concerning aging out-of-place from an occupational perspective, and the scarcity of literature examining the experiences of late-life immigrants from such a perspective.