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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Home: The place the older adult can not imagine living without

Catharina Gillsjö12*, Donna Schwartz-Barcott2 and Iréne von Post3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Life Sciences, University of Skövde, Sweden

2 College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island, USA

3 Department of Caring Science, Åbo Academy University, Vasa, Finland

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BMC Geriatrics 2011, 11:10  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-11-10

Published: 17 March 2011



Rapidly aging populations with an increased desire to remain at home and changes in health policy that promote the transfer of health care from formal places, as hospitals and institutions, to the more informal setting of one's home support the need for further research that is designed specifically to understand the experience of home among older adults. Yet, little is known among health care providers about the older adult's experience of home. The aim of this study was to understand the experience of home as experienced by older adults living in a rural community in Sweden.


Hermeneutical interpretation, as developed by von Post and Eriksson and based on Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics, was used to interpret interviews with six older adults. The interpretation included a self examination of the researcher's experiences and prejudices and proceeded through several readings which integrated the text with the reader, allowed new questions to emerge, fused the horizons, summarized main and sub-themes and allowed a new understanding to emerge.


Two main and six sub-themes emerged. Home was experienced as the place the older adult could not imagine living without but also as the place one might be forced to leave. The older adult's thoughts vacillated between the well known present and all its comforts and the unknown future with all its questions and fears, including the underlying threat of loosing one's home.


Home has become so integral to life itself and such an intimate part of the older adult's being that when older adults lose their home, they also loose the place closest to their heart, the place where they are at home and can maintain their identity, integrity and way of living. Additional effort needs to be made to understand the older adult's experience of home within home health care in order to minimize intrusion and maximize care. There is a need to more fully explore the older adult's experience with health care providers in the home and its impact on the older adult's sense of "being at home" and their health and overall well-being.