Old Age as 'other status': the deconstruction of a paradigm
Ilaria Elisea Scerrato (University of Rome La Sapienza)
Paper short abstract:
The paper proposes an integration between the anthropological and the phenomenological -psychophysiological approach for a critical methodology of ageing, issue often medicalized in the contemporary world. We would like to bring attention to the elder not as sick person, but as a person, with his agency.
Paper long abstract:
The paper proposes a critical analysis of the cultural and social constructions of ageing that pervades the public discourse around the growing phenomenon of elderly population in Italy. The elders are marginalized, are constructed as social 'others' through a process of medicalization and categorized as subject 'at risk'. They are seen as non-productive and consumptive community resources. These socially constructed stereotypes have a real impact on social identity of the elders and on the policy on ageing endorsing such as the construction of infrastructures like 'nursing homes' or geriatric wards in hospitals, that contribute to the marginalization of elders. The paper will propose a consideration on the Italian institutional discourse on old age, which proposes the care of the elder as a patient, who needs only medical care. This creates the collective unconscious of the great shadow of aging. The critical anthropological approach and the psychophysiological integrated understanding of the ageing process can be useful tools aiming at a better understanding of this complex issue of the Western world. Furthermore, it can be useful in a practical context in the training of professionals working with the elderly (nurses, psychologists, social workers). This promotes an understanding of ageing not as a pathological condition, but as a human condition. The focus is on the agency of the elders, their creativity, their emotions which the social workers have to meet in a context of interaction and dialogical relationship.
Imagining an old future: anthropological perspectives on age and ageing