Ageing and Society
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Published By Cambridge University Press

1469-1779, 0144-686x
Updated Friday, 30 July 2021

2021 ◽  
pp. 1-23
Mathew Sunil George ◽  
Rakhal Gaitonde ◽  
Rachel Davey ◽  
Vyas Sukumaran ◽  
Itismita Mohanty ◽  

Abstract The feminisation of ageing observed across the world is a significant challenge in many societies. Women's greater longevity is associated with the increased likelihood of age-related disability and morbidity. Furthermore, gendered disadvantage and poverty can make access to health care increasingly problematic in later years. Among the Indian states, Kerala has the highest number of residents above the age of 60 and many are older widows. Given this context, this paper explores what promotes access to health care for older widows living alone in the south Indian state of Kerala. Thirty-two in-depth interviews, eight focus group discussions and eight units of participant observation were carried out among widows, health-care providers and key informants. Applying a reflexive inductive approach to our analysis, the main barriers to access that emerged were altered family structures and loneliness, whilst enablers included good social networks and access to neighbourhood clinics. Our participants’ social networks were drawn from three levels: family, neighbourhood and the wider community. The ability to form a personal community from their social networks and the quality of relationships within this community strongly predicted the capacity to access health care. Efforts to improve access to health care for older widows requires a response that is rooted in the socio-cultural context of the community. Comprehensive social protection policies that promote initiatives to engender social capital among the older population, decentralised primary health-care services, and the training and sensitisation of health service staff would be key to promote equitable access for older widows.

2021 ◽  
pp. 1-19
Pryanka Boerio ◽  
Emma Garavaglia ◽  
Alessandra Gaia

Abstract The demographic landscape of European countries is rapidly changing because of population ageing; in this context, societies are called to offer older people opportunities to age actively. Although ‘active ageing’ has been broadly explored, there is still room to further our knowledge on the individual conditions that may favour or hinder activity in later life. This study aims to contribute to the literature in this field by focusing on the role of social capital. Specifically, it explores, through logistic regression models, how social capital and changes in social capital are associated with engagement in, the initiation of and continued participation in various domains of activity: volunteering and charity work, active participation in political or community-related organisations, informal care-giving and paid work. The data analysed stem from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). We focused on people aged 55+ participating in Waves 4–6. The key findings are: (a) having a larger social network is positively associated with participation in and the initiation of activities; (b) receiving social support (rarely) may stimulate reciprocity and thus care-giving; and (c) an increase in social network size is positively associated with initiation and maintenance of activities during later life.

2021 ◽  
pp. 1-26
Zengwen Wang ◽  
Yaofeng Chen ◽  
Yucheng Chen

Abstract The low retirement age has imposed a heavy economic burden on the pension system in China, leading to an ongoing debate about raising the retirement age. To understand the potential costs of raising the retirement age, we need to consider the health effects of retirement policies. Using the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) from 2011 to 2015, this study employs the statutory retirement age as the exogenous variable of retirement and applies a fuzzy regression discontinuity design (RDD) to examine the effect of retirement on the health of Chinese elderly people. We find that retirement has a non-significant effect on health with respect to a series of health indicators, different bandwidths of RDD and sub-sample groups. The finding is also robust across different retirement definitions and retirement ages. This result may be attributed to the minimal changes in income and lifestyles before and after retirement. Moreover, the findings of this study provide important evidence for policy makers to increase retirement ages in China.

2021 ◽  
pp. 1-37
Andreea C. Badache ◽  
Hany Hachem ◽  
Elina Mäki-Torkko

Abstract Older adults 75 and above are a fast-growing segment of the population. However, few studies have investigated what it means to age successfully from their perspective. This group of older adults face challenges that might characteristically differ from younger older adults. Therefore, the aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the perspectives of older adults aged 75 and above regarding what it means to age successfully and to summarise the findings through a narrative synthesis. We also aimed to provide a snapshot of inhibitors and facilitators to achieve successful ageing. A systematic review of the 75+ older adults’ perspectives was conducted across PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, Web of Science and PsycINFO. Qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods original peer-reviewed studies were included. After reviewing 4,661 articles, 15 articles met the inclusion criteria and 15 themes were identified. They ranged from biomedical components such as physical functioning to psychosocial components such as relationships, reflections on life and past experiences, preparations for death and environmental factors. The findings revealed that as people age, their definition of successful ageing changes, expanding the current conceptualisation of successful ageing by including additional factors that can act as facilitators and/or inhibitors, such as death and environmental factors. The findings also highlight the need for further research on theory development by considering age-related differences and the perspectives of under-studied populations.

2021 ◽  
pp. 1-17
Linda Isherwood

Abstract Social resources – close relationships, support exchange and social engagement – can play an important role in successful adjustment to widowhood in later life. However, it is not clear whether access to, and the utilisation of, social resources are different for men and women during late-life widowhood. This study provides a qualitative exploration of the experience of social resources in the lives of older widowed men and women across the transition to widowhood (from pre-widowhood to later widowhood). Using a life course theory lens, in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 men and women who had been widowed in later life. The interview data were analysed using the framework approach. Four phases in the transition to widowhood were identified: ‘Illness and caring’, ‘Relocation and separation’, ‘Early bereavement’ and ‘Life goes on’. Widowhood brings great change to the accessibility and utilisation of social resources, and each of these transitional phases was associated with differential usage of these resources. Gender differences were observed in the availability of social resources across the transition to widowhood, with widowed men typically found to have smaller friendship networks, receive less support and be at increased risk of social isolation. Particular attention is required to ensure that all older widowed men and women have access to sufficient social support and contact following bereavement.

2021 ◽  
pp. 1-19
Agnete Meldgaard Hansen

Abstract This paper explores how dignity is articulated and pursued by care workers in two currently prominent policy initiatives seeking to reform Danish care services for older people. Based on ethnographic case studies of ‘reablement’ practices and the use of ‘welfare technologies’, the paper shows how these attempts to create dignified care services transform interactions between care recipients and care workers. The analysis is inspired by a socio-material perspective on dignity as ‘crafted’ and ‘co-laboured’ in daily practices, in an interplay between multiple human and non-human actors. In the cases studied, dignity is articulated as closely related to older people's increasing autonomy and independence of formal care, and is pursued through enhancing care recipients’ self-care ability, and through technological automation of care tasks. However, these articulations and pursuits of dignity do not stand alone. When everyday care practices are closely examined, dignity is also pursued by care workers as increased co-operation and equality between care workers and care recipients, as de-objectification, and as promotion of enjoyment and quality of life. In these practices, care is ambivalently positioned as both a potential threat to dignity, and as a prerequisite to achieving it. The paper concludes by discussing the risks of policy agendas pursuing a narrow understanding of dignity as simply independence of care.

2021 ◽  
pp. 1-24
Ursula Henz

Abstract Increasing longevity has led to a rising number of adult children who are at higher ages when they provide care for their parents. Drawing on the lifecourse approach and exchange theory, the paper addresses similarities and differences in parent care between late middle-aged and older adult children. The study uses the UK Household Longitudinal Study, restricting the analysis sample to individuals aged 50 and older with a living parent or parent-in-law. It presents multivariate models to examine differences between late middle-aged (aged 50–64) and older (aged 65+) children in being a parent carer, providing intensive care, the duration of parent care and providing selected types of help to parents. The involvement in parent care increases among women up to the end of their seventh decade of life and for men up to their eighth decade of life. At higher ages, the proportion of parent carers decreases more strongly for women than men. Older carers have shorter care-giving episodes than younger carers, but there is no significant difference in the type of care provided. Even past retirement age, parent care remains classed and gendered, with women from lower social classes having the highest likelihood of providing intensive parent care in old age. Having dependent children or living in a non-marital union depress the likelihood of caring for a parent even past retirement age.

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