Where to Retire? Experiences of Older African Immigrants in the United States

Manka Nkimbeng, Alvine Akumbom, Marianne Granbom, Sarah L. Szanton, Tetyana P. Shippee, Roland J. Thorpe, Joseph E. Gaugler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Doubling in size since the 1970s, the aging needs of the African immigrant population are not fully understood. This qualitative study examined experiences of aging and retirement planning for African immigrant older adults in the United States (U.S.). Specifically, it explored the factors, processes, and ultimate decision of where these older adults planned to retire. Secondary analysis of semi-structured interviews with 15 older African immigrants in the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan area was conducted. Data was analyzed using thematic analyses in NVivo. The majority of participants were women, with a mean age of 64. Three overarching themes with ten sub-themes were identified. The themes included: (1) cultural identity, which indicated the participant’s comfort with the U.S. society and culture; (2) decision making, meaning factors that impact participants’ choice of retirement location; and (3) decision made, meaning the final choice of where participants would like to retire. Age-friendliness for immigrant older adults in the U.S. is complex and it includes traditional domains such as physical and sociocultural environment (e.g., housing, transportation, and income). However, immigrant age-friendliness also needs to include wider contextual aspects such as political climate of their country of origin, immigrant status, family responsibilities, and acculturation in the U.S. More research is needed to better understand and facilitate age-friendly environments and transnational aging of immigrant older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1040
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: MN was supported by the Robert L. Kane Endowed Chair at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Also, data collection was supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar program, the National Institute on Aging (NIA# 1F31AG057166-01), and the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) which is funded in part by Grant Number TL1 TR001078 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Johns Hopkins ICTR, NCATS or NIH. RT was supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (U54MD000214).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Health Sciences

Free keywords

  • African immigrants
  • Age-friendliness
  • Aging-in-place
  • Older adults
  • Retirement


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