Movements of Older Population
Over the last 20 years, a great deal of research has focused on movements of older population. At one level, research has focused on broad migration patterns. Other studies – often which are qualitative have investigated some important social contexts and consequences such as family networks and the pushes and pulls to and from different locations in migration decision making, as well as the outcomes of such migrations on groups, individuals and health and social care systems. This research has considered these issues in the context of semipermanent migrations between countries (such as British retirees to Spain) with respect to semipermanent migrations within countries (such as British retirement migration to coastal areas) and short term migrations within, around or between countries (such as North American 'snowbirds'/ seasonal migrants).
A number of studies describe the factors that have led to the increasing distancing of older adults from their children. Underpinning this trend has been changing social attitudes with regard to the need for close geographical proximity between families and also changing attitudes regarding responsibilities for providing care and social support. Indeed, what is commonly known as 'the loosening of family ties' is recognized to have a strong geographical dimension. At the same time, both older people and their children have been shown to be more actively mobile, due to their changed economic circumstances. For example, in comparison with previous generations, the current generation of older people has more money and resources that provide opportunities to relocate, while their children might be more likely to relocate for career purposes. Whatever the reason for increased distancing however, research identifies decay in immediate interactions and social and caregiving support as distances increase between families. This does not necessarily have to lead to a compete breakdown of communication between families, and geographers and others have highlighted the concept and emerging reality of 'intimacy at a distance'.