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Perceptions of aging in the right place: Photovoice with older adults transitioning from experiencing homelessness during COVID-19
Kaushik, V., Walsh, C., Canham, S.L., Mahmood, A., & Sussman, T. (2021). Perceptions of aging in the right place: Photovoice with older adults transitioning from experiencing homelessness during COVID-19. [paper presentation]. Canadian Association on Gerontology 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting. Virtual.
Aging in the right place (AIRP) recognizes that where an older person lives impacts their ability to age optimally and must match their unique lifestyles and vulnerabilities. As a concept, AIRP involves supporting older adults to live as long as possible in their homes and communities. Photovoice is an arts-informed, community-based, participatory action research strategy that empowers people to document their experiences through photography while promoting critical dialogue. This methodology is particularly well-suited to examining issues such as AIRP and rights-based housing. In this study, phenomenological photovoice interviews were conducted with diverse older adults residing in permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, and emergency shelters during COVID-19 in Vancouver, Montreal, and Calgary, Canada. Participants were adults age 50 and older with intersectional identities and experiences of homelessness. Each interview was conducted in three 45 to 60-minute sessions over three weeks to allow time for participants to develop rapport with the researcher, become comfortable with the process, and offer deeper commentary. This paper presents the use of photovoice methodology in effectively engaging homeless older adults in participatory research and promoting a sense of empowerment among study participants. We highlight participant’s perspectives of AIRP, including how their living situation meets their various housing and support needs. Findings can be used to inform policy initiatives that promote AIRP and the right to adequate housing for older adults experiencing homelessness.