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.
Lien, L. L., Steggell, C. D., & Iwarsson, S. (2015). Adaptive strategies and person-environment fit among functionally limited older adults aging in place: A mixed methods approach. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(9), 11954–11974. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120911954