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Managing the ageing experience

Managing the ageing experience: Learning from older people

Denise Tanner
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  • Book Info
    Managing the ageing experience
    Book Description:

    Current social policy recognises that older people should be treated as experts in their own lives and be actively involved in their care. This book explores what can be learned from older people's experiences of managing ageing. Direct connections are made between the everyday experiences and perspectives of older people, related research and theoretical perspectives. This yields an engaging and informative analysis of how older people manage the ageing experience and what this means for policy and practice directed at promoting older people's wellbeing. The book will be of value to undergraduate and postgraduate students in health and social care and practitioners in these fields.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-898-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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

    Managing the ageing experienceanalyses the strategies used by older people to manage the changes that accompanying ageing. The book is well grounded in the experiences of older people themselves, and provides us with the views of 12 older people and their practical strategies for managing change as well as the wider context of gerontological social work and social care. Taking a lifecourse perspective it connects current processes with values, goals and past experiences of dealing with loss and change. Themes discussed in the book illustrate the resilience, creativity and resourcefulness of older people in their attempts to sustain themselves...

  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The central aim of this book is to learn from the ways in which older people manage the experience of ageing. An overview of research projects commissioned by older people as part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Older People’s Research Programme between 2000-04 highlighted the need for policy and practice to start with an understanding of older people’s lives, in all their richness and diversity, and then, based on that understanding, to consider how services can support older people to live the lives they choose (Older People’s Steering Group, 2004). This reflects the ethos of this book, which aims to...

  3. ONE Starting from lives
    (pp. 5-26)

    This chapter begins by introducing the older people whose experiences and perspectives form the central thread of the book. I then introduce both myself and the research, aiming to make as transparent as possible the research relationships and processes through which understanding of older people’s strategies for managing ageing has been generated. The final part of the chapter considers the rationale for starting with the experiences of older people in order to understand ageing. This encompasses discussion of theory, epistemology, values and policy.

    As mentioned in the Introduction, I wanted to ‘get close’ to older people’s experiences, not only by...

  4. TWO Setting the scene
    (pp. 27-54)

    The first part of this chapter outlines the social policy and practice context in which the construction of older people’s needs and decisions about whether and how these should be met takes place. It provides the context for discussion in subsequent chapters of how the strategies used by older people to manage difficulties are supported or undermined by policy and provision within the statutory and independent care sectors and by wider political, social and cultural discourses. The discussion focuses on social care policy. The second part of the chapter discusses the research processes and methods used to elicit the needs...

  5. THREE ‘Keeping going’
    (pp. 55-82)

    This chapter focuses on the practical or ‘doing’ strategies used by older people to manage the ageing experience. This theme is called ‘keeping going’ and three dimensions of older people’s efforts to keep going are discussed. These are efforts to: maintain social roles and activities (‘keeping active’); maintain standards and routines (‘keeping stable’); and preserve relationship boundaries (‘keeping balance’).

    Keeping active refers to older people’s efforts to be proactive, accepting responsibility and taking action to manage everyday living and address difficulties. Keeping active contains four interrelated sub-categories: keeping busy, pushing yourself, finding solutions and adjusting.

    ‘Keeping busy’ encompasses three related...

  6. FOUR ‘Staying me’
    (pp. 83-116)

    While the previous chapter addressed the ‘doing’ strategies employed by older people, this chapter focuses on their cognitive ways of coping. The chapter title, ‘staying me’, refers to older people’s efforts to retain a sense of continuity between their past, present and anticipated future lives, and to sustain a sense of self, often in the face of situations that threaten to disrupt continuity and undermine a positive self-concept. The ‘staying me’ theme encompasses two categories, continuity and self-affirmation. Given the concern with cognitive rather than practical ways of managing, there is more scope for researcher interpretation of meaning, as discussed...

  7. FIVE ‘The slippery slope’
    (pp. 117-154)

    Chapters Three and Four described and analysed practical strategies and cognitive ways of coping used by older people as they endeavour to manage changes and difficulties in their daily lives. This has conveyed a largely individualist view of ageing, with a predominant emphasis on personal strengths and coping styles. At the same time, particular beliefs and attitudes, which underpin coping efforts, are themselves heavily influenced by social and cultural constructions, as expressed, for example, in beliefs relating to individual responsibility and self-sufficiency. This chapter moves beyond the level of individual perspectives and behaviour to examine the resources and threats that...

  8. SIX ‘Sustaining the self’
    (pp. 155-186)

    The aim of this chapter is to derive some meaning at a broader level from the analysis presented in the previous chapters. To facilitate this process, this chapter begins with a review and summary of the themes discussed in the previous three chapters. This is followed by discussion of how these connect to the wider theme of efforts to sustain a sense of self. A model of key processes involved in managing the ageing experience is proposed and compared with other models of response to ageing and illness. Finally, the chapter considers how the theme of ‘sustaining the self’ relates...

  9. SEVEN Destinations and directions
    (pp. 187-210)

    In Chapter Six I sought to integrate understanding derived from the analysis presented in Chapters Three, Four and Five. The chapter argued that the themes of ‘keeping going’, ‘staying me’ and ‘the slippery slope’ were related to a broader overarching theme of sustaining the self, examining this in the context of related research and theoretical perspectives. By exploring the wider meaning of the study findings, I thus began to address the question, ‘What is to be made of it all?’ (Wolcott, 1994).

    This final chapter draws out the significance of the issues highlighted in the previous chapters for social care...