Human Environments Analysis Lab (HEAL)

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The Gerontologist





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Background and Objectives

Emerging research regarding aging in neighborhoods emphasizes the importance of this context for well-being; however, in-depth information about the nature of person–place relationships is lacking. The interwoven and complex nature of person and place points to methods that can examine these relationships in situ and explore meanings attached to places. Participatory geospatial methods can capture situated details about place that are not verbalized during interviews or otherwise discerned, and qualitative methods can explore interpretations, both helping to generate deep understandings of the relationships between person and place. This article describes a combined qualitative-geospatial approach for studying of older adults in neighborhoods and investigates the qualitative-geospatial approach developed, including its utility and feasibility in exploring person–place transactions in neighborhoods. Research Design and Methods

We developed and implemented a qualitative-geospatial approach to explore how neighborhood and person transact to shape sense of social connectedness in older adults. Methods included narrative interviews, go-along interviews, and global positioning system tracking with activity/travel diary completion followed by map-based interviews. We used a variety of data analysis methods with attention to fully utilizing diverse forms of data and integrating data during analysis. We reflected on and examined the utility and feasibility of the approach through a variety of methods. Results

Findings indicate the unique understandings that each method contributes, the strengths of the overall approach, and the feasibility of implementing the approach. Discussion and Implications

The developed approach has strong potential to generate knowledge about person–place transactions that can inform practice, planning, policy, and research to promote older adults’ well-being.


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