Body capital and the geography of aging



The 2010 US Census recorded 40.3 million residents aged 65 years and older mostly living in urban environments that were not originally designed for older adults. This potential social and spatial mismatch is made worse by the unavoidable decline of physical adaptability that could come in older age. Ultimately, within residential settings that have remained mostly unaltered for decades, diminished physical and cognitive capacity can force older adults to face undesired and, most importantly, unplanned transformations of their established routines in everyday life. The article expands on Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus and body capital to advance the need for research on the interaction between bodies and places. By highlighting theoretical arguments that express dissonance between aging populations and built environments, the paper further explores the concept of habitus. Of importance is how diminished body capital not only changes habitus, but also changes how other people see older people, contributing towards ageism. The conclusion addresses how the European ENABLE-AGE project and the World Health Organization Age-Friendly cities are developing processes to mitigate this change.