Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 3 » Migration and Geographic Distribution - Geographic Distribution, Why Does Age Distribution Vary Across Areas?, Retirement Migration, Why People Move In Later Life

Migration and Geographic Distribution - Why People Move In Later Life

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Theories of why people voluntarily move start with the plausible assumption that individuals are motivated by a desire to improve (or maintain or minimize loss of) their quality of life. Job-related moves become less common in later life, while three other reasons for migration become more important. One reason is the desire to improve the quality of one's physical environment. With incomes coming from social security, pensions, and investments, older people have greater freedom than younger people to put a high priority on the physical amenities of potential destination communities. Moves for lifestyle reasons characterize recent retirees who move to a warmer climate or to an area with greater recreational opportunities. Studies find that retirement migrants often plan these moves long in advance and vacation at their destination community for several years before actually making the permanent move. Those who fit this description are often relatively affluent, healthy, and married. As noted above, these are the older migrants that some retirement communities actively seek because they bring economic resources into the community. Still, it is important to remember that most older people age in place— retirement migration to the Sunbelt is the exception.

A second reason for moving in later life is to improve the social environment by locating closer to children, grandchildren, or other kin. The motivation to move in order to increase potential social support is frequently stimulated by a life course transition that increases vulnerability, such as widowhood or declining health. Compared to those moving to improve physical amenities, people moving to strengthen support networks tend to be older, unmarried, and physically frail. An interesting illustration of these two types of moves is provided by comparing the stream of migrants from New York to Florida with the counterstream of migrants from Florida to New York. Those moving to Florida, compared to those moving back to New York, are more often married, healthy, young-old (65–75 years old), have a high income, and live independently. The plausible explanation for why vulnerable older people leave Florida to return to their former place of residence in the Northeast is that they are seeking to be nearer children and other kin who can provide support.

The third type of late life move, often involuntary and of a short distance, is to an assisted-living facility or nursing home. An increasing functional dependency and inability to live independently precede these generally dreaded moves. Making the decision to move to a nursing home is generally difficult, being the only choice left after other options have been exhausted. Moving to a nursing home is often the final move that an individual will make.

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