Choosing between staying at home or moving: A systematic review of factors influencing housing decisions among frail older adults

PLoS One. 2018 Jan 2;13(1):e0189266. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189266. eCollection 2018.


Background: Most older adults wish to stay at home during their late life years, but physical disabilities and cognitive impairment may force them to face a housing decision. However, they lack relevant information to make informed value-based housing decisions. Consequently, we sought to identify the sets of factors influencing the housing decision-making of older adults.

Methods: We performed a systematic literature search for studies evaluating any factors influencing the housing decisions among older adults over 65 years old without cognitive disabilities. Primary research from any study design reported after 1990 in a peer-reviewed journal, a book chapter or an evaluated doctoral thesis and written in English, French or Spanish were eligible. We extracted the main study characteristics, the participant characteristics and any factors reported as associated with the housing decision. We conducted a qualitative thematic analysis from the perspective of the meaning and experience of home.

Results: The search resulted in 660 titles (after duplicate removal) from which 86 studies were kept for analysis. One study out of five reported exclusively on frail older adults (n = 17) and two on adults over 75 years old. Overall, a total of 88 factors were identified, of which 71 seem to have an influence on the housing decision-making of older adults, although the influence of 19 of them remains uncertain due to discrepancies between research methodologies. No conclusion was made regarding 12 additional factors due to lack of evidence.

Conclusion: A wealth of factors were found to influence housing decisions among older adults. However, very few of them have been studied extensively. Our results highlight the importance of interdisciplinary teamwork to study the influence of a broader range of factors as a whole. These results will help older adults make the best possible housing decision based on their unique situation and values.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Male

Grants and funding

This research was funded by Canadian Frailty Network (known previously as Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network, TVN), supported by Government of Canada through Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program (CORE 2013-56). NR was supported by a Canadian Frailty Network scholarship. FL holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.