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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(9), 11954-11974; doi:10.3390/ijerph120911954

Adaptive Strategies and Person-Environment Fit among Functionally Limited Older Adults Aging in Place: A Mixed Methods Approach

School of Design and Human Environment, College of Business, Oregon State University, 228 Milam Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Department of Rehabilitation Science, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, SUNY, 501 Kimball Tower, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA
Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Sweden, Box 157, 221-00 Lund, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Wendy Stav
Received: 25 June 2015 / Accepted: 17 September 2015 / Published: 23 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Occupational Therapies and Human Well-Being)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [753 KB, uploaded 23 September 2015]   |  


Older adults prefer to age in place, necessitating a match between person and environment, or person-environment (P-E) fit. In occupational therapy practice, home modifications can support independence, but more knowledge is needed to optimize interventions targeting the housing situation of older adults. In response, this study aimed to explore the accessibility and usability of the home environment to further understand adaptive environmental behaviors. Mixed methods data were collected using objective and perceived indicators of P-E fit among 12 older adults living in community-dwelling housing. Quantitative data described objective P-E fit in terms of accessibility, while qualitative data explored perceived P-E fit in terms of usability. While accessibility problems were prevalent, participants’ perceptions of usability revealed a range of adaptive environmental behaviors employed to meet functional needs. A closer examination of the P-E interaction suggests that objective accessibility does not always stipulate perceived usability, which appears to be malleable with age, self-perception, and functional competency. Findings stress the importance of evaluating both objective and perceived indicators of P-E fit to provide housing interventions that support independence. Further exploration of adaptive processes in older age may serve to deepen our understanding of both P-E fit frameworks and theoretical models of aging well. View Full-Text
Keywords: accessibility; usability; person-environment fit; adaptive behaviors accessibility; usability; person-environment fit; adaptive behaviors

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Lien, L.L.; Steggell, C.D.; Iwarsson, S. Adaptive Strategies and Person-Environment Fit among Functionally Limited Older Adults Aging in Place: A Mixed Methods Approach. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 11954-11974.

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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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