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Ageing with disability

Ageing with disability: A lifecourse perspective

Eva Jeppsson Grassman
Anna Whitaker
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  • Book Info
    Ageing with disability
    Book Description:

    This is the first book to address the issue of ageing after a long life with disability. It breaks new ground through its particular life course perspective, examining what it means to age with a physical or mental disability and what the implications are of 'becoming old' for people who have had extensive disabilities for many years. These people may have had to leave the labour market early, and the book looks at available care resources, both formal and informal. Ageing with disability challenges set ideas about successful ageing, as well as some of those about disabilities. The life course approach that is used unfolds important insights about the impact of multiple disabilities over time and on the phases of life. The book highlights the meaning of care in unexplored contexts, such as where ageing parents are caregivers or regarding mutual care in disabled couples. These are areas of knowledge which have, to date, been totally neglected.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0523-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Judith Phillips

    Ageing with disability: A lifecourse perspectiveoffers a well-informed, critical approach to the debates in the fields of disability and ageing. As the title suggests it views disability through the lens of the lifecourse, addressing the impact of multiple disabilities over time and on the different phases of life. The book challenges our stereotypes of ‘successful ageing’, particularly in the context of the social model of disability. New questions are raised and discussed, such as ‘What does it mean to age with a physical or mental disability, and what care resources are available?’ ‘How do older people make sense of...

  2. ONE Ageing with disability: An introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Eva Jeppsson Grassman and Anna Whitaker

    The risk of acquiring impairments of various kinds increases as we grow older. Such old age-related impairments are not the ones at issue in this book, however. Instead, the focus is on people who have acquired impairments or chronic illness earlier in life, perhaps during childhood, adolescence or young adulthood, and who have had better chances than those in previous generations to live long lives. The aim of the book is to discuss — from a lifecourse perspective — what it means to live a long life, to age and to become old for people who have disabilities acquired early in life....

  3. TWO Time, age and the failing boby: A long life with disability
    (pp. 17-34)
    Eva Jeppsson Grassman

    This short excerpt from the biography of a man whose life I have followed for 30 years summarises some of the main themes addressed in this chapter: the long life with progressing disabilities, chronic illness as multiple illnesses, the quest for a fulfilling life in spite of disability, and a lifecourse marked by a work life that was interrupted too early. Yet the excerpt also briefly illustrates the ambiguity of the lifecourse where, perhaps contrary to what might be expected, life prospects seem more optimistic at the age of 60 than at 40 or 50. With the point of departure...

  4. THREE Disability, identity and ageing
    (pp. 35-54)
    Lotta Holme

    In this chapter I explore from a lifecourse perspective how important leading activists of the modern Swedish disability movement regard their ageing and later life. More specifically, I focus on how a special group of disabled people experience ageing and later life in light of the modern history of disability and disability politics in which they have actively participated (see also Campbell and oliver, 1996; Hugemark and Roman, 2007; Symeonidou, 2009). I discuss the importance of identity as a disabled person and how this is socially shaped and described.

    The aim of this chapter is to examine perspectives and experiences...

  5. FOUR Is it possible to ‘age successfully’ with extensive physical impairments?
    (pp. 55-72)
    Annika Taghizadeh Larsson

    The question in the title of this chapter is the point of departure for the discussion here: is it possible to age actively and ‘successfully’ with extensive impairments?

    Recent decades have witnessed the emergence of a perspective on ageing that has provided a sharp contrast to the negative loss and decline perspective that has dominated gerontology for many years (Minkler and Fadem, 2002). A common trait among scholars promoting this positive and active view is to present avoidance or absence of disease and impairment as prerequisites for enabling later life to become a period of engagement and self-fulfilment. For example,...

  6. FIVE Being one’s illness: On mental disability and ageing
    (pp. 73-90)
    Per Bülow and Tommy Svensson

    To most people, growing old means changes in their social life, economy and health. Gerontological research is often framed by the idea of life conceptualised as a process involving ‘normal’ stages of childhood, schooling, professional career, family, and where old age is seen as a final stage. Ageing and old age, however, are not static or fixed concepts, but their contents vary over time. Some current changes can be related to the fact that the population, mainly in Western countries, is becoming older. In Sweden, life expectancy has increased by about six years for both men and women in the...

  7. SIX In the shade of disability reforms and policy: Parenthood, ageing and lifelong care
    (pp. 91-108)
    Anna Whitaker

    This short but concise quote captures one of this chapter’s key assumptions: that the experience of ageing with a lifelong disability is something that not only influences the disabled individual, but also very much contributes to shaping the lives of the family members (DeMarle and le Roux, 2001; Dowling and Dolan, 2001; Brett, 2002; Shakespeare, 2006). While the other chapters of this book build on stories of ageing disabled people, this chapter focuses on ageing parents and their personal experiences of having closely followed a disabled child growing up and becoming adult, and also considers in what ways this experience...

  8. SEVEN Ageing and care among disabled couples
    (pp. 109-128)
    Cristina Joy Torgé

    Mr and Mrs Eriksson (born 1946 and 1940), married for 36 years, both have multiple diagnoses. Mr Eriksson has had a developmental disorder from a young age and also has chronic pain. His wife has lived with illness since 1974 and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 12 years ago. Before her Parkinson’s diagnosis, she took more responsibility for managing her husband’s illnesses. However, having become gradually worse, she became eligible for personal assistance. As we talked about how two people with disabilities can complement each other, we also ended up talking about future concerns. According to Swedish assistance legislation, Mrs...

  9. EIGHT Living and ageing with disability: Summary and conclusion
    (pp. 129-138)
    Anna whitaker and Eva Jeppsson Grassman

    This chapter gives a summary of the main results and perspectives presented in this volume, the aim of which was to discuss what it means to live a long life, to age and to become old for people who have disabilities acquired early in life. Key questions that have been discussed are: what does it mean to live a long life and age with a disability, either physical or mental? What are the implications of ‘becoming old’ for people who have had extensive disabilities for many years? What are the available formal and informal care resources? What does it mean...