9: The role of cultural meaning system and place attachment in retaining home ownership while residing in retirement homes in Kerala, India

Home is a place marked by many life course events. Home is also embedded with memories, self-identity, sense of security, cherished possessions and family relations. When an older adult leaves their home and starts to live in a retirement facility they have to reconfigure their sense and meaning of home. This chapter examines home ownership and residential changes and the meanings homes have for older adults in Kerala. The chapter addresses three questions: i) what motivates older adults to retain their (previous) home while currently residing in retirement homes?, ii) how do older adults maintain their previous homes? and iii) how do these motivations help to maintain place attachment? Using a unique set of qualitative interviews with residents of care homes, the authors show that health issues, a need for assistance, a lack of security, migration of children, loneliness due to loss of a spouse and a wish to live independently, are the major reasons for older adults to seek an alternative source of residence in the form of a retirement home. Cultural schemas of care and obligations towards next generation motivate older adults in retaining and maintaining homes.

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