Volume 12, Issue 1
Aging in rural communities: Older Persons’ Narratives of Relocating in Place to Maintain Rural Identity
Literature often looks at older persons’ rural-to-urban moves, but relocation within the same region is less explored. The purpose of this study is to understand the perspectives of older persons who move to age in town in the same rural setting. Using data from 16 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with older persons in a rural community and directed content analysis, this study examines these older persons’ assessments of their current living situation, still seen as living rurally but now in a more populous location. Although moving within a rural environment, for different reasons, they do not report feelings of being “stuck in place.” Rather, older adults interviewed had positive thoughts of earlier life (i.e., in farm settings) while seeing benefits of being “in town” and close to amenities (e.g., activities, services, and family) while still feeling a part of the same rural place. Six themes emerged about the move. “Here and now, I am doing things” revealed the move increased social activities. The “widow’s or widower’s move” found relocation due to spousal death. Couples moved as their own choice for amenities or fewer house/land-related responsibilities. The “I’ve always moved around” group saw relocation as a natural part of life. Others moved to be close to family, but it was their own choice. And the last theme showed positive or negative impressions of the farming identity: either “Get me off the farm!” or, “Still a farmer at heart.” Differences in the experience of transition, sense of insiderness, and place-continuity appear in this less-studied group.