The stigma of relocation to a retirement facility


Relocation to a retirement facility can have a detrimental effect on an older person's self-concept. This research suggests that residing at a retirement facility is a source of stigma for older people because of the way it affects their relationships with others. Data were gathered through three years of participant observation at a multilevel care facility. Interviews were conducted with over 150 residents and 16 people on the facility's waiting list. Those on the waiting list perceived residents as less capable and less competent and dreaded relocation. In contrast, residents felt stigmatized by those outside who pitied and patronized them. Within the facility, residents were grouped by disabilities into three classifications reinforcing the negative stereotypes that healthier residents held about the more disabled residents. Those in the more regimented classifications were pitied and patronized. Such interactions, and the identification of self with stereotypes associated with residency classification, negatively affected the resident's selfconcept. © 1990.

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Journal of Aging Studies