Publication details

Ageing As an Increasing Uncertainty

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Year of publication 2016
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description The fourth age basically embodies all of the common fears of ageing; it brings frailty, helplessness, and loss of autonomy. The combined effects of ageing, illness and disability characteristic of the fourth age change irreversibly a customary way of life and call into question one´s sense of self. In advanced age it is a challenge merely to maintain an acceptable concept of Self, one’s self respect, and a dignified life. The institutional practice, the contact with welfare and health systems, conditioned the fourth age. But the older adults are not passive elements in this process, they actively negotiate and maintain a fragile sense of self in the face of increasing disability and frailty. Personal identity is more a process then an essential status and its nature is relational – thus the ageing self-identity is constantly re-negotiated in the contact with significant others, care providers, institutions or even with one´s own changing body and mind. The preservation or reconstruction of one’s identity thus seems to be a key challenge for the fourth age, since the adaptation mechanisms successful in the third age may fail as one passes into the fourth age. The increasing uncertainty in day-to-day activities is a key characteristic of loss of the agency. It is the gradual loss of mobility, for example, loss of strength in hands, weakening of sight. Our paper is based on the results from the mixed method (secondary analysis of SHARE data and qualitative interviews) research project “The Fourth age: the Identity of Disability during the period of active ageing” focusing on the relational and negotiated nature of self-identity in very old age.
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