This article explores the experience of residing in age-related housing. The focus is on the negotiations around the multiple meanings assigned to place of residency among older people - in a situation where the official policy objectives of growing old in one's own home are not achieved.
Narrative analysis is employed to study the experiences of older people aged 75 or older living in special types of housing due to actual or anticipated difficulties associated with age. The interviews are part of a larger body of data gathered in MOVAGE Moving in Old Age: Transitions in Housing and Care research project.
The storyworld was structured by the romantic canonical narrative associated with the policy of 'ageing in place'; growing old at home is idealised and moving is constructed as a disruption. This breach was resolved through explaining deviance from canonical expectations by causes constructed as legitimate, through encountering trouble by constructing oneself as a non-typical resident, and through creating counter stories of natural transitions and choices. As a result, despite the commonly negative meanings associated with the residency in age-related housing, positive storylines respecting values embedded in the canonical narratives of home and endurance were achieved.
A living environment that is experienced as suitable, and that has adequate formal help available, supports and enables wellbeing and independence. This is true within age-related housing as well as in other forms. Thus, even though the important meaning of a long-term home should continue to be acknowledged, various other kinds of forms of housing should be made available in order to enhance older people's sense of security and feeling that they are autonomous, independent agents in their everyday life in accordance with their subjective life experiences.