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The temporal aspects of mobility intentions: older people's reflections on present and future support arrangements

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2019

Rachel Barken*
Department of Sociology, York University, Toronto, Canada
*Corresponding author. Email:


Discourses on later-life housing and care are polarised. Ageing in place – typically in one's long-term dwelling – is often presented as the most desirable living arrangement, while moving to a congregate environment tends to be regarded as a last resort. Such polarised discourses obscure older people's experiences as they contemplate needs for housing, health and social care. To expand current understandings of mobility intentions, this paper examines ‘time work’ – or actions undertaken to exert some agency over time – as older people with chronic health conditions and disabilities navigate present and future support arrangements. Based on an interpretive analysis of qualitative interviews with 22 older persons receiving home care in Ontario, Canada, I identify three themes that highlight the temporal aspects of mobility intentions: (a) maintaining continuity with the past and present, (b) constructing alternative futures and (c) facing precarity. Focusing on time work shows how people make sense of ageing in place and/or relocating not only in relation to their physical, social and psychological capacities, but also in relation to perceptions of the past, present and future. Time work, moreover, has implications for feelings of security in the present and a sense of control over the future. Based on these findings, I make suggestions for developing a comprehensive continuum of supports, so all older people can make meaningful choices concerning housing and care.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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