The experience of 'ageing in place' over time: a longitudinal perspective

'Ageing in place' is a popular term in current social policy, most commonly defined as supporting the preferences of older people to remain at home for as long as possible.

The benefits of this type of approach have yet to be systematically explored, with few studies focusing on its meaning for older people and insufficient connection between research and policy. However, whilst environmental aspects of ageing in place have been the subject of detailed study, the temporal dimension - the way in which feelings, experiences, and attachments to neighbourhoods change over time - has received much less attention in ageing research.

This project follows a qualitative longitudinal approach in order to explore how older people’s relationships to place change over time. The project involves the secondary analysis of 70 life history interviews with older people (age 50 and over) living in four different locations in Greater Manchester in order to understand how experiences of 'ageing in place over time' differ across contrasting urban neighbourhoods. The research draws on an ESRC-funded resource, Timescapes: An ESRC Qualitative Longitudinal Initiative. 

Project objectives

Four core questions guide the research:

  1. What are the origins, objectives, and characteristics of 'ageing in place' policies? 
  2. What do biographical accounts and longitudinal qualitative data tell us about the ways that older people age in place over
  3. time? 
  4. How does the experience of 'ageing in place over time' differ across contrasting urban neighbourhoods? 
  5. How can evidence from research support the implementation of policies and practices relating to ageing in place? 

Through responding to these four questions, the project aims to advance theoretical understandings of ageing in place over time, improve empirical understandings of older people's experiences of ageing in place over the life course. In doing so, it will also contribute to methodological debates about the use of qualitative longitudinal research to explore older people's experiences of ageing in place over time. Findings will be fed back to local policy-makers, practitioners and academics with an aim to better connect research and policy, more concretely influencing policy and practice aimed at developing age-friendly communities and supporting ageing in place. 

Principal investigator

  • Dr Camilla Lewis


  • Dr Vanessa May
  • Dr Tine Buffel

Research associate

  • Dr Ruth Webber


  • Economic and Social Research Council