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“Stuff You Should Know About Age Friendly Neighborhoods but Don’t”: Researching Aging-in-Place With Older Adults as Co-Researchers

By: & Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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In the context of aging-in-place policies and emerging initiatives by municipalities to make cities age-friendly, we developed a participatory research project that engaged older adults themselves, along with academic researchers, in “mapping” experiences, needs, and wishes of older people who “age in place.” The project resulted in 10 in-depth interviews, a policy brief, a number of presentations, and two follow-up projects. However, the project also encountered many challenges related to the investment of time and resources, the differences in ways of doing and being between members of the research team, and, related to this, a sense of ownership of the project process and outcomes. In this case study, we focus on the sometimes bumpy road and the lessons learned when co-researching with older adults. Working with older adults as co-researchers on aging-related topics contributes to accessing and disseminating knowledge, as the co-researchers were able to approach participants who would not have participated in the project if the interviews were conducted by a student or a policy officer. In addition, the co-researchers were able to reach older adults who were more isolated and would have probably not volunteered to be interviewed. Furthermore, older adults working as co-researchers can benefit from working in a participatory project, by increasing their social network or deepening a relationship through the interviews.

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