Ageing and Society

Domestic spaces: uses and meanings in the daily lives of older people

a1 Bartlett Graduate School of Graduate Studies, University College, London.


This paper examines older people's everyday routines and their implications for older people's uses and perceptions of domestic spaces in both mainstream and sheltered housing settings. It draws from qualitative data collected during a large-scale survey of the housing and support needs of older people, and specifically the responses of 60 informants to personal interviews. The findings are that domestic spaces have a significant influence on the scope that older people have to retain a sense of self-determination. It is shown that environmental defects, such as poorly configured domestic spaces, have consequences for older people's sense of continuity and choice. The conclusions are that domestic spaces are living spaces that embody personal and family-oriented priorities. It is suggested that older people require adequate, accessible and personalised domestic spaces in order to facilitate three important objectives: routines, responsibilities and reflection.

(Accepted June 10 2002)

Key Words: domestic spaces; daily routines; control; personalisation; self-determination.

c1 Address for correspondence: John Percival, 43 High Street, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol BS9 3ED, UK e-mail: