Journal of Aging Studies

Published by Elsevier
Print ISSN: 0890-4065
This article represents an effort to formulate an ethical framework for long-term care with the explicit purpose of providing a catalyst to promote further discourse and expand consideration of what an ethic of long-term care might entail. Grounding the discussion, an introduction to traditional ethical philosophy is presented, focusing mainly on the fundamentals of deontological and teleological ethical theories. Attention then shifts to a review of the more frequently cited principles found in the long-term care ethics literature, followed by a critique of the current reliance upon principlism to resolve ethical dilemmas in long-term care. In response to this criticism, an agent-driven ethical framework stressing dignity and respect for personhood, drawn from the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, is advanced.
'Freedom of sexual expression' is a slogan that has long been synonymous with the generation known as the baby boomers during the 1960s and 1970s. But does this catchphrase still have currency for the men and women in this cohort who are mostly now over the age of fifty? This paper explores the question by reporting on qualitative data from a multi-method Australian study about the influence of growing older on baby boomers' sexual expression. The sample comprised ten interview participants and fifty-seven Internet survey respondents, aged between 50 and 70years. Following a theoretical perspective known as the sociology of emotions, the analysis of data reveals that baby boomers' emotional experiences range from constraining to liberating sexual expression, to a paradoxical combination of both. The article argues that while sexual freedom is still an important concept to baby boomers, there are new emotional dimensions to its expression, particularly in the form of comfort and confidence, that come with age. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Since the late 1980s, the concept of 'successful ageing' has set the frame for discourse about contemporary ageing research. Through an analysis of the reception to John W. Rowe and Robert L. Kahn's launch of the concept of 'successful ageing' in 1987, this article maps out the important themes and discussions that have emerged from the interdisciplinary field of ageing research. These include an emphasis on interdisciplinarity; the interaction between biology, psycho-social contexts and lifestyle choices; the experiences of elderly people; life-course perspectives; optimisation and prevention strategies; and the importance of individual, societal and scientific conceptualisations and understandings of ageing. By presenting an account of the recent historical uses, interpretations and critiques of the concept, the article unfolds the practical and normative complexities of 'successful ageing'. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Initially the aim of this article was to discuss and define aging at the intersection point between biology and sociology. However, recent biomedical and technological advances are changing the discourse on aging, and against this background the author of this article argues that current definitions of aging should be improved. The author emphasizes that there is a need to update current definitions of aging, or to formulate new multidisciplinary ones. The author suggests that (besides biology, psychology and sociology) the technological discipline should be included in the integrative gerontology model. Finally, in this article a new definition of aging is put forward. According to the author of this article, human bio-techno-social aging is characterized by: (a) a time-bound process of change including, (b) both reversible and irreversible biological processes, (c) social processes forming an irreversible chain of events, and (d) an increasing use of technological artifacts whose purpose is to support or replace damaged biological functions; and/or an increasing use of technological artifacts whose purpose is to facilitate or enable interaction. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Investigated were elderly persons who live alone and do not have families to rely on for surrogate health care decision-making in events of decisional incapacity. Exploratory findings are presented from in-depth interviews of 20 men and women aged 65 to 91. Friends and physicians are the preferred surrogate resources for elderly people without families. Some participants, however, reported that they had no one to rely on. The findings revealed that elderly people without families have not engaged in much planning for long-term care and related health care decision-making. Instead, these people hope to continue as they have to make their own decisions and to care for themselves until the end of their lives. The study recommends that professionals should initiate discussions with family-less elderly concerning the use of planning measures, including utilization of proxy appointments, for future health care decisions.
The ability to make choices and decisions, and to have those decisions upheld, is central to self-determination. For people living with a diagnosis of dementia, however, it can be difficult to remain involved in decision making. While many studies show that people with mild or moderate dementia have the ability to participate in decision making, there are also indications that the attitudes of those around them, including health professionals and family carers, can sometimes be a barrier, and there is generally little understanding about the nature of decision making for this population. This small pilot study draws on van Manen's approach to phenomenology to explore the essence of decision making for people living with dementia. The findings highlight the importance of remaining central to decision making, and the key role that subtle support from carers plays in enabling this.
Recent studies of parent-adult child relations using a network family approach have paid increasing attention to within-family differences and the role of in-laws in parent-adult child exchanges. However, the effect of sibling structure on the allocation of childcare and household help provided by older women, the negotiation process among in-laws and the underlying principle(s) have been under-examined. Based on ethnographic and interview data collected from 28 women in rural South China, this article examines the effect of sibling structure on mothers-in-law's assistance in the context of economic reform, and the role of cultural norms and daughters-in-law in the negotiation process using a family network perspective. Since the late 1970s, the sibling order of husbands and the presence of their unmarried brothers have negatively affected the bargaining power of young married women and their access to childcare assistance from their mothers-in-law. In terms of household help, sibling size and the equity principle have prevented mothers-in-law in larger extended families from providing assistance during both the pre-reform and reform periods. Although the equity norm is a pivotal moral resource for daughters-in-law in negotiating parental support, other competing norms, particularly parents' obligations to their unmarried adult sons, may set limits on their claims and bargaining power. FINDINGS demonstrate that the distribution of childcare and household help provided by mothers-in-law are results of intra- and intergenerational negotiation among daughters- and mothers-in-law, rather than simply a dyadic parent-child relationship. Competing norms and daughters-in-law also play important roles in the negotiation for parental help. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Autonomy, a core American value, is routinely invoked as a goal in gerontological discussions of the aging process, yet frailty, another commonly used term in gerontology, suggests that functional losses may interfere with individuals' ability to maintain autonomy in everyday life. Older persons who are impaired are seldom asked how they view themselves with respect to autonomy and frailty, or what autonomy means. The meanings older persons attach to autonomy and decreases in physical abilities are explored through in-depth interviews with 28 persons age 80 or older. While autonomy encompassed a wide range of self-descriptions, respondents never used the word, frail, to describe themselves. I explore the potential of the construct of the lived body for a holistic approach to aging that values embodied knowledge and experiences of those who are old. I conclude that gerontological views of autonomy promote a cultural ideal that does not reflect elders' perspectives, and that the notion of frailty has the potential to stereotype elders, with negative effects on well being.
The use of restraints in nursing homes has been curtailed in the United States since the passage of the 1987 federal legislation regulating restraint practices. This study used focus groups with administrators and nursing staff in a skilled nursing facility to examine their views of restraints and perceptions of conditions in the nursing home environment that affect restraint use. Although respondents lacked a shared definition of a "restraint," they did identify contextual factors that in combination with resident characteristics produced situations in which restraint use was justified. Implications of these findings for staff education on restraint reduction are discussed.
Older widowers are more likely to remarry than older widowed women. However, relatively little is known about the attitudes of older widowers to new romantic relationships and remarriage or repartnering. In this study of 60 widowers, more than half spontaneously discussed their attitudes toward, and experiences of, these relationships. However, none of the widowers had remarried and of those who described themselves as repartnered only one was cohabiting. We examine these data in the light of Lopata's concept of 'husband sanctification' (1981). We identify four themes. First, some widowers do sanctify their late wives. Second, we argue that wife sanctification contributes to widowers' uncertainties about repartnering. Third, when widowers make decisions to repartner, wife sanctification does not appear to make an important contribution. Finally, there is evidence to suggest that wife sanctification influences how men refer to their new women friends. Thus, we conclude by arguing that wife sanctification influences widowers' decisions surrounding remarriage/repartnering.
In this article I provide an overview of ethical concerns when conducting ethnographic research in nursing home settings where participants are vulnerable and submissive to authority, and I consider how particular research methodologies may benefit the participants. The focus of the article is primarily on the issues of privacy and autonomy and the relationship between the researcher and the participant. My own experiences of doing research in a nursing home will be woven throughout the article, as will the accounts of other researchers who have studied life in nursing homes. In reflecting on my work as a researcher I have come to a deeper understanding of the ethical issues involved in doing research in a nursing home and of the importance of ethically sound research.
The life prolonging power of medical technology and traditional ethics which require the maintenance of life have generated growing political demand for new law to regulate the use of lifesaving equipment and techniques, and to establish the rights of individuals to determine the course of their own treatment. This research maps the politics of the right-to-die through an analysis of state legislation and appellate court decisions and interviews with political participants in three states. It also examines the role of interest groups of and for the elderly in shaping this policy. The research has discovered that, with an important exception, state law has become more supportive of patients'rights since the earliest legislation, but that state courts and legislatures often compete in policymaking. However, the elderly have not substantially sought to influence this policy in either branch of government. The political potential of the elderly is examined.
It is sometimes argued that interview research with vulnerable social groups, such as frail, lonely, older people, has distinctive ethical and methodological requirements. The conventional one-off, professional interview is seen to be both inadequate as a method of data collection and inimical to the interest of research subjects. While ideologically persuasive, such a view is not derived from systematic analysis of actual interviews. In this article, I describe a research project on social isolation in which the conceptualization of elderly interviewees as "vulnerable subjects" had a number of critical but intended impacts on the course and outcomes of the research. I offer an empirically grounded analysis of the interview situation that suggests an alternative reading of the relationship between social representation of aging persons and the methods we use to study them.
Previous work suggests that control and suffering are related to one another. Although it would be expected that within cultures which emphasize the importance of masculinity, as well as personal control, there would be greater suffering among individuals who lose their sense of masculinity or control, how these constructs relate to each other and are individually negotiated has been largely understudied. This paper takes a case study approach to further exploring how the constructs of control, masculinity, and suffering are related in the lived experience of an older European American man, Mr. Gregor. Analysis of this case shows that masculinity is related to control and that these constructs act as themes which interact over Mr. Gregor's lifetime in a variety of ways. The level of control maintained by Mr. Gregor in different aspects of his life affects his sense of suffering. In some instances his sense of masculinity helps to protect Mr. Gregor against suffering; in others, it contributes to his suffering. These findings support the notion that there are culturally dependent possibilities for how control and masculinity are related.
Longitudinal data were used to examine whether the subjective importance attached to being a religious person influenced health or psychological well-being 14 years later. About two-thirds of the panel reported consistently positive attitudes toward being religious throughout the study; about 16 percent were consistently negative in terms of the importance of being religious. In regression analyses, 1977 rating of the importance of being religious had no predictive value in understanding variation in health or psychological well-being in 1991. Religious affiliation and frequency of attending religious functions were also unrelated to health or psychological well-being. These results call into question conclusions of earlier reviews of the literature.
Activity changes reported by 29 panel respondents who developed functional limitations over a 16-year period were compared with activity changes in a matched control group that did not develop functional limitations. Maintaining a stable activity level by increasing participation in activities that remained to offset declines or losses in other activities (consolidation) was the most common adaptation pattern for both groups. Continuity of both pattern and level of activities occurred only in the control group. Disengagement—a sharp reduction in both number and level of activities—occurred only in association with functional limitations. Activity adaptations resulted in preserved morale for all but one in the control group and for most of the functional limitations group, but disengagement produced a sharp reduction in morale for 71 percent of the small number who reported this pattern.
The Effect of Television News Stories on the Elderlv Suicide Rate, 1968-1980
The Effect of Publicized Elderly Suicide Stories on Elderly
The literature on imitative suicides has been marked by poor theory, including the neglect of the concept of audience responsiveness. Drawing from a symbolic interactionist perspective, the present paper incorporates Blumer's concept of audience receptivity. It takes the elderly as the social age group apt to be most receptive to publicized suicide stories, given their suicidogenic life circumstances such as economic strains, social isolation, and physical illness. Time series techniques are applied to national data on monthly suicide rates and televised publicized news stories on suicide. Months with publicized suicides are found to have 10 additional elderly suicides (mean elderly monthly suicides is 369). The imitative suicide effect was increased to 19 suicides when the analysis was restricted to stories about elderly suicides, a finding that suggests age identification in imitative suicide. Further analysis found an effect for both females and males, in spite of lower suicidal behavior associated with the aged female role. Noncelebrity suicide stories were unrelated, however, to elderly suicide. The suggestion effects were independent of changes in unemployment and season.
The impact of age, period and cohort effects on Canadian male suicide patterns between 1926 and 1981, and United States white male suicide patterns between 1933 and 1983 is examined using multiple classification analysis. Previous cohort studies of suicide behavior have been descriptive, and have failed to consider the interaction of the three effects. In both nations, period effects are weaker than age and cohort effects for explaining suicide shifts. Cohort effects are relatively strong in the United States, but are weaker in Canada. The United States suicide data fit the APC model better than the Canadian data. The findings are exploratory, and may help to identify the factors that influence longitudinal suicide behavior in the two nations.
Frequencies for articles containing the phrase senior moments N %
Purpose: This study examines instances of the phrase senior moment in newspapers to identify definitions of the phrase and determine how the phrase operates in discourse. Design and methods: A search on Lexis-Nexus Academic Universe revealed 136 newspaper articles using senior moment 181 times between 1991 and 2000. These articles and instances of the phrase were examined through quantitative and qualitative content analysis. Definitions from the articles were coded into six categories. Qualitative analysis explored how the phrase was used as an expressed attribution. Results: First appearing in 1997, senior moment became more common in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Although senior moments are most frequently defined as brief memory lapses, the phrase also refers to severe cognitive impairment and functional incompetence. Occasionally the phrase highlights a positive event related to an older adult. Attributional themes included two self-directed attributions (excuses and concessions) and three other-directed attributions (condemnations, apprehensions, and dismissals). Implications: These results indicate that senior moment is an ageist attribution. The increasing popularity of the phrase suggests that negative stereotypes of older adults remain socially acceptable.
In two anthropological studies on old-age institutions, the lobby is found to be an arena in which one may examine the styles that seniors use to cope with the end of life. The lobby seemingly symbolizes the socioexistential situation of today's elderly and gives us a credible view of two separate types of institutions: sheltered housing and the old-age home. The article examines three levels of context: the static “set” in the lobby, the traffic of tenants and others through it, and the extent of freedom in its access. The article concludes that each institutional context “promotes” a different style of coping. Sheltered-housing tenants cultivate a middle-aged identity in which they deny the fact that they are old; tenants of the old-age home accept the manifestations of old-age and conduct an overt discourse with death. The reality of life in an institution as one that forces people to cope with question of identity in old age creates an appropriate background for discussion of the costs and utilities of each style of coping.
Over the last 25 years, there have been over 50 studies examining the attitudinal effects of contact between older and younger people. Comprehensive reviews of these intergenerational contact studies are rare. This article critiques a large sample of these investigations pointing to a wide range of crucial methodological and theoretical inadequacies. Our intergroup approach explores the motivations and communicative behaviors likely occurring during intergenerational contact and a new model is formulated amalgamating and elaborating intergroup contact and communication accommodation theories. This framework not only enhances our understanding of why outcome inconsistencies between studies are evident, but also sets the stage for a new era of theoretically-driven, communication-oriented studies and intergenerational programs.
National policies emphasize older people's right to autonomy, yet nursing home residents often have restricted opportunities to make decisions about everyday matters. We use qualitative interview data to analyze staff members' explanations of actions that conflict with both social norms and national policies. Two types of problematic actions are discussed: restrictions of elderly residents' influence in decision making and neglect of residents' complaints. While staff members describe residents' influence as desirable, they simultaneously formulate accounts that justify their inability to live up to this ideal. Further, we demonstrate how certain complaints are “made trivial” when they are described and treated in specific ways by the staff. We argue that the accounts offered by staff members draw on an implicit folk logic, a logic in which residents are allowed to exercise influence only as long as it does not conflict with the efficient running of the institution as a whole.
This article examines the terms of the debate over the ‘therapeutic’ status of reminiscence work with the elderly. We argue that the declared need for empirical evidence in terms of ‘psychological’ consequences for participants can in large part be understood as deriving from an argument concerning the designation of reminiscence work as a ‘therapy’. We aim to illustrate some shortcomings of conventions in evaluative research that focus on operationalized psychological variables. We argue that such approaches do not take into direct analytical account the relevance of ‘anecdotal’ claims for the ‘benefits’ of reminiscence work and their implications for the societal location of the older people within networks of care practices. Our approach is informed by recent developments in discourse analysis that focus on representational variability in accounts as an important analytical resource.
This study explores the dynamics of informal care of the elderly in Mexican-American families. Quantitative and qualitative data drawn from interviews with caregivers are presented, which illustrate how acculturation affects the caregiving experience itself and its consequences in terms of stress, burden, rewards, and overall satisfaction. The burden of caregiving for both highly acculturated and less acculturated caregivers was substantial, but there were dramatic differences between the groups in levels of satisfaction. Contrary to expectations, the less acculturated caregivers experienced greater stress, burden, and significantly lower satisfaction even though they were more clearly fulfilling role obligations and they had more family members available to assist with caregiving. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.
We explored, through eight semi-structured interviews, couple relationships in which one spouse had a hearing loss. Levels of hearing loss were assessed through audiograms and couple reports. Couples reported to gradually accept and find meaning in their experiences. This process was aided by knowing how the hearing loss came about. They also expressed beliefs and values, such as optimism, gratitude, and humor, which illustrated further meaning. Despite experiencing hearing-related couple communication difficulties, most couples demonstrated good communication skills that were likely strengthened in response to the hearing loss. Resources, such as assistive listening devices, appeared to be very helpful for couple adaptation. Resilience was further demonstrated through couples' balance between dependence and autonomy, and through maintaining a balanced emotional ledger during interviews.
Early work in gerontology stressed adaptability and implied a certain passivity in the formulation of aging self-concepts. More recent efforts have focused on intentionality and socially negotiated aspects of self-conception. This article asserts that the selection of role models evolves out of intentional consciousness and that these then stand as external referents for self-definition. Relying on our own proleptic imagery of who we want to be, we use personalized ideal types to orient our own behavior and attitudes. Utilizing a three-fold typology originated by Klapp, the discussion outlines three global ideal types that actors may use in charting their own course.
The medicalisation of aging and old age constructs ageing as first and foremost a biomedical event and as a process of inevitable decline. In sports science and sports medicine the functional decrements normally associated with ageing are being addressed. There is evidence reported in the scientific literature suggesting that certain exercise interventions can ‘reduc[e] or prevent[…] functional declines linked to secondary aging’ [Goggin, N.L., and Morrow, J.R. Jr. (2001). "Physical Activity Behaviors of Older Adults." Journal of Aging and Physical Activity 9, 58–66.].However a sociological critique is necessary. Whilst sports science seeks to position itself as a key player in the fight against ageing, it also opens the potential for the reconstruction of the ageing body as fit. However the evidence that exercise can fundamentally reshape older bodies is equivocal. A new frame is proposed which divorces exercise from anti-ageing purposes and uses the science of exercise to enable older people to recover a sense of physical competence as a creative pursuit in its own right.
Due to their longevity, daytime soap operas provide a rich entertainment text through which to examine representations of, and experiences of, age and aging. Our exploratory, qualitative project explores how veteran soap actors make sense of their own aging process alongside that of their characters’, and how soaps serve as an unexpected cultural resource for negotiating the varied meanings of aging. Drawing on original interview data with soap actors (n = 11) and other industry experts (n = 4), original survey data with long-term viewers (n = 34), and secondary data as reported in the entertainment and popular presses, we examine actors’ use of fictional narratives to make meaning of their progression through the life course. Our analysis is situated at the intersections of gerontology, media studies, and the sociology of work.
Beginning from the premise that a primary task of a science is to be true to the character of its subject matter, this article argues the study of aging in the human sciences has not paid sufficient attention to the distinct features of human aging. Specifically, the role of intentional human action (involving purposefulness and selfhood) in producing age-related phenomena has largely been ignored. Paradigmatic concepts of psychology (development), sociology (socialization), and economics (choice) are analyzed with reference to the study of aging. These concepts focus on organism, environment, and behavior, and deflect attention from the task of analyzing the role of intentionality in relation to aging. This circumstance can be viewed as a special instance of the more general modem literary practice of rendering the subject silent, passive, and “objective, ” as reflected in Barthes' concept of “white writing. ” Some possibilities for developing alternative conceptual approaches for the study of aging are briefly discussed.
Filial piety has greatly influenced parent care and the parent-child relationship in Korea as in China and Japan. In recent years, as Korea is undergoing a rapid social change, concern over parent care has been increasing. This growing concern necessitates a critical review of the willingness of adult children to practice filial piety. The very definition affiliai piety has become a public issue. Heretofore, filial piety has been described in abstract terms; it has been a concept too general to provide clear guidance for practice and research. This study, aimed at identifying specific indices of filial piety, developed a descriptive taxonomy of categories of concrete actions of filial piety by deconstructing the meanings of filial piety in practice. For this purpose, stories about adult children who exemplified filial piety were analyzed by the content analysis method and the results were triangulated with findings from a questionnaire survey of the same adult children. A set of 10 categories emerged, including respect, responsibility, affection and repayment. These categories enable a comprehensive assessment of caring of elderly parents by their adult children and a holistic under-standing of an “ideal form” of filial piety, to which Koreans are aspiring.
Using Sweden as a case, the article discusses the tendency within disability activism and policies to overlook elderly people. From an analysis of a major Swedish government investigation on disability it is clear that disability policies in Sweden have come to rest upon stereotyped age norms that divide the life course into set stages, and there has been a tendency to define elderly disabled people as elderly rather than disabled. It is argued that this exclusion is partly the result of a successful endeavor to provide disabled people of younger ages with rights that are typical of non-disabled citizens. Justice and equality have been defined in comparison to citizens of similar ages: children, youth and adults of “active age”. Based on the analysis of the paper it is argued that activities of movements struggling to liberate oppressed populations may contribute to ageism, and that anti-ageist research must go beyond the idea that ageism is a simple matter of attitudes towards older people.
Gambling is a controversial activity that is supported by some but opposed by others for a variety of reasons that are largely ethical, moral, and religious. These issues have been in place a long time and will continue. But gambling has become even more controversial because of the ever-expanding dependence of local and state governments on gambling and gambling-related tax revenue as a source of support for their programs, including senior centers. This dissertation research addresses the politics and policy surrounding the relationship between gambling and senior centers. The results indicate that senior center gambling is on the local agenda of nearly all of the case study communities. A variety of issues relating to senior center gambling was found, including evidence of the negative impact of dependence on gambling-generated revenues for centers and their clientele. These findings have implications for future research and for practice and policy relating to senior center gambling activities. In particular, these findings suggest the need for further investigation of the independent roles of historical, political, and cultural factors in the development of gambling regulations and their respective impacts on the agenda-setting process.
Age is an important and often overlooked attribute that influences adjustment to a new cultural context. This paper focuses on the ways in which older Iranian women, who spent their youth and middle adult years in Iran, have adapted to life in the United States. The results are based on extensive interviews with 19 Iranian women over the age of 65 (age range was 65 to 85). Although the majority of women interviewed expressed positive feelings about themselves and a sense of satisfaction with the transitions in their lives, considerable individual differences were identified. These differences focused primarily on the ways in which they attempted to adapt or cope with the new cultural environment in which they were living. Analysis resulted in the identification of three general strategies of adaptation to immigration. These strategies were labeled as withdrawn, insular, and assimilative.
This article explores (1) the relationship between elderly mothers of one child and their son or daughter and (2) the impact of that relationship on mothers' current and future well-being. Data from ethnographic interviews of twenty mothers of one, and twenty mothers of four or more children were compared for thematic content. Mothers of only children were found to be child-focused to the exclusion of other life-enriching activities, and singularly dependent on their son or daughter for self-validation. Significant in the interview material of single-childed mothers was the use of illusion as a tool for defusing disappointment in, or fabricating closeness to the child.
Twenty-four interviews with 14 retired professional women were conducted and the results were presented as a four-stage process model [Price, C.A., 1998. Women and retirement: the unexplored transition. New York, Garland]. Because retirement adjustment for professional women has been a topic largely overlooked, the data pertaining to the women's adjustment experiences were reexamined in light of current literature and within the frameworks of identity theory and role theory. Retirement adjustment, for these women, was influenced by the following factors: (1) role expansion, (2) maintaining a sense of self, (3) reestablishing structure through time, and (4) community involvement. Results indicate that adjustment to retirement, for professional women, may be enhanced by utilizing work-related skills, maintaining active lifestyles, and nourishing individual self-concepts to counter the loss of former professional roles.
It has been estimated that nearly 25% of all individuals living beyond their sixty-fifth birthday will spend a significant portion of time living or recuperating within a nursing home. While these individuals must cope with the physical problems which have necessitated their institutionalization, they must also adapt to a highly structured environment which often controls the communicative world of each individual effected by the institution. This article highlights the unique communicative world of the nursing home. Special attention is paid to the transition each elderly resident must make as he or she enters the nursing home and the limits placed on interpersonal activity by the rules and regulations of nursing homes. Finally, the initial interactions which do take place between staff and the new residents and the new residents with “tenured” residents are shown to highlight feelings of dependence and unhealthiness as fostered by the institution.
Informed by a family systems perspective, the main purpose of this study was to identify changes in parent–adolescent relationships and in family dynamics when a family member with Alzheimer's or similar dementia moves into the household. The data, based on in-depth interviews with 17 adolescents, revealed that the care situation induces both positive and negative changes in family relationships. On the one hand, adolescents showed considerable empathy and respect for the parent who is the primary caregiver and reported that joint involvement in caregiving enhances adolescent–parent bonds. On the other hand, the adolescents lamented restrictions on their own and the family unit's activities due to the care situation. They also complained about spillover of caregiver stress on other family relationships and about parent-caregivers' focus of attention on the care recipient. These negative features strongly influenced adolescents' adaptation to the care situation. Overall, the results confirm the importance of a family systems perspective for understanding of and intervention in family caregiving for demented relatives. Family life educators should convey the importance of family dynamics in caregiving situations to their audiences, and family practitioners should be aware that an exclusive focus on the primary caregiver's problems may hamper adaptation of other family members (and especially adolescents) who are involved in the care situation.
During the past fifty years, research based on attachment theory has found that when relational partners' attachment systems are activated, significant differences emerge between the ways individuals respond to each other. These different attachment styles are related to the ways individuals characterise and conceptualise close relationships generally, referred to as ‘internal representations’. Internal representations of close relationships depend heavily upon whether individuals have a secure or insecure attachment style. Until recently, most attachment-based research has focused either on the parent–child relationship during infancy, or on adult romantic relationships. Attachment researchers are now turning their attention to the parent–‘child’ relationship during the later stages of life. Later life filial relationships are of intrinsic interest to attachment researchers because they concern the same adults who were instrumental in forming the attachment organisation of the young child. This study considers filial attachments from the perspective of the adult ‘child’. Twenty-four participants were selected using the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ) to include equal numbers of the three main attachment organisations. Six robust factors emerged, accounting for 71% of the variation. Confident Resolution and Resolved Yearning incorporated the secure attachment organisation. Distant Irritation and Dutiful Loyalty captured the insecure-avoidant style, with Unresolved Yearning and Entangled Resentment comprising insecure-ambivalent individuals.
Adversities facing people with disabilities include barriers to meeting daily needs and to social life. Yet, too, fundamental social devaluation erodes an individual's capacity to retain title to the cultural category of a full person. These cultural adversities are important components in the disablement process. The cultural meanings for physical dependency convey images of childlike, dependent, incomplete persons near death. Using interviews with middle aged and elderly polio survivors, the author identifies key cultural categories, the expectations and values linked with disability and describe the strategies people use to confront, or not, the erosion of personhood. The importance of understanding the category of the person, its historical setting, and evolution are highlighted. Finally, the inversion of traditional cultural logics for defining the personhood of individuals with disabilities is illustrated.
The interface between grief, an intrapsychic and behavioral response to bereavement, and mourning, a process involving the social and cultural prescriptions for the expression of grief, has seldom been examined. Using data from a qualitative study on the effects of an elderly parent 's death on adult daughters, this paper provides evidence that grief and mourning influence each other. Individual response to loss can be understood by examining interwoven intrapsychic and socially evaluative domains. Individuals struggling to incorporate these two, sometimes conflicting, dimensions may in part make choices in their own experiences of and responses to bereavement. This paper suggests that the internal debate involved in balancing personal and cultural forces not only leads to control of the expression of grief, but molds the intrapsychic experience of grief as well. For example, the need to control grief both serves to shape and contain it, and assists in maintaining an enduring tie with the deceased elderly parent.
International and domestic labor migrations are changing the face of many countries. Those economic and demographic transitions collide with cultural expectations and ways of conducting intergenerational relations. This paper is a narrative analysis of some of those changes from the perspective of the elderly who remain behind in a small village in central Turkey. In particular, their narratives focus on filial expectations of sons and daughters, the status of mothers-in-law, health and economic well-being, and the future of village life. While these “left behind” elderly feel a loss of status and control and fear for their futures as their children pursue lifestyles unfamiliar and threatening to them, they are nevertheless gradually negotiating these changes and redefining late life to adapt to new circumstances and maintain their family relations.
This article describes a study of the correlates of subjective burden within a sample of 121 adult daughters and 50 adult sons, each of whom was identified as providing care to an older parent. Feelings of burden, the key dependent variable in the study, was measured using the Caregiver Burden Scale. Independent variables included (a) sociodemographic characteristics of the caregiver, (b) internal or cognitive coping strategies, (c) external coping strategies involving five different sources of social support, (d) social support measured in terms of how many assist in caregiving, (e) degree of caregiving involvement, (f) the extent to which adult children planned or prepared for the time when parents would need care, and (g) both quantitative and qualitative aspects of the adult child-elderly parent relationship. Daughters reported higher levels of burden than did sons. Most measures of social support, particularly frequency measures, were not correlated with feelings of burden, nor for the most part were attempts to plan and prepare for caregiving. Only Involvement in caregiving tasks and selected coping strategies were predictive of subjective burden. Important differences according to caregivers' gender were noted with regard to both caregiving tasks and to the coping strategies that were related to burden.
Demographic and cultural changes have given rise to the question of whether adult children will continue to provide support to their elderly parents. In a qualitative study among selected respondents from a large representative sample, we investigated the motivations of adult children to provide support to their elderly parents. Five major themes emerged: individual choice, obligation, reciprocity, quality of the relationship and genetic relatedness. Respondents rejected general norms of filial obligations, were reluctant to impose behavioral rules on others, but nevertheless expressed strong personal obligations to care. Individualization is often equated with withdrawing from providing care. Our findings suggest otherwise. Filial obligations tend to be strong, but personalized. Social prescriptions have given way to personal motives to provide care.
One important consequence of the rise in the number and proportion of older adults in our society may be an increased occurrence of living patterns where the older person shares a household with one or more of his or her adult children. To this point, only limited research has addressed the effects of coresidence on the quality of life of the members of the dyad. Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households, we examined perceived effects of a discontinuance of a current pattern of coresidence on matched pairs of older parents and their adult children. While a majority of both groups report that specific life dimensions would remain largely unchanged if they were not sharing a household, elderly parents anticipate much more negative consequences from the hypothetical separation than do their adult children. The responses of the older parents apparently reflect the greater dependence and vulnerability that result from a variety of economic and health-related problems. Perceptions of both groups are only modestly affected by several sociodemographic and structural characteristics, though age is a fairly consistent predictor of more negative perceptions among the elders. Future research should move beyond these structural factors to address a variety of process variables that might better describe the dynamics of the relationship.
This article explores the types of support adult daughters caring for frail elderly parents receive from various sources (husbands, children, siblings, friends, and support groups) as well as the barriers they encounter in seeking additional help. Previous studies, based on quantitative methods, have asserted that social support buffers caregivers from stress. This study, based on in-depth interviews using both open-ended and close-ended questions, found that family and friends exacerbated stress as well as alleviated it. Renewed contact with brothers and sisters frequently reignited sibling rivalries. Friends who trivialized caregiving undermined the women. Moreover, although some daughters received critical assistance, concern for the well-being of others compelled these caregivers to submerge their own needs. Rather than Impose on their husbands, they renounced social support and attempted to absorb the costs of caregiving themselves. Many sought to shield their children from exposure to illness and death.
Loss of adult status is a potential threat throughout the course of adult life. Rehabilitation has not focused on older people, inpart, because American cultural beliefs about aging suggest that little can be done medically for those who are old. The case of stroke illustrates conflicts that occur in applying the rehabilitation ethos to older people. Because recovery from a stroke is seldom complete, and because older people who have strokes may have other chronic illnesses and long-standing impairments that precede the stroke, the case of stroke raises questions about how existing rehabilitation practices and policies affect adult status in old age. Based on six years of research with 214 stroke patients and practitioners who cared for them, findings indicate that rehabilitation therapists differentiate patients into two categories: rehabilitation candidates or geriatric care patients. A three-part process is described: (1) the split rehabilitation therapists perceived between providing rehabilitation versus giving geriatric care; (2) the differential treatment of patients categorized as rehabilitation candidates or geriatric care, and (3) patients' response to treatment. It is concluded that widespread negative attitudes about aging in the United States affect assumptions about the rehabilitation of those who are old and extend to illnesses that are associated with old age, such as stroke. As a condition that exemplifies such attitudes, stroke reflects ageism that has been institutionalized in the rehabilitation system's rules and regulations about progress in rehabilitation and perpetuated in the everyday, hands-on practice of rehabilitation with those who are old. Such policies are primarily intended to limit the use of federal and private insurance resources, and it is therefore suggested that rehabilitation policies pose a threat to adult status for the majority of older people.
Top-cited authors
Stephen Katz
  • Trent University
Julia Twigg
  • University of Kent
Deborah L O'Connor
  • University of British Columbia - Vancouver
Toni Calasanti
  • Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Simon Biggs
  • University of Melbourne