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Accepted Paper:

Adaptation Strategies and Patterns of the Elderly with Age-Related Disabilities in Relation to Food  
Eva Ferrarova (Charles University Prague) Tereza Krouzkova (Tereza Kroužková)

Paper short abstract:

The elderly have to react and adapt to the new living conditions associated with emerging or worsening disabilities. Our research focused on how the elderly with age-related disabilities react by adopting adaptive strategies, that are basic prerequisite for successful adaptation.

Paper long abstract:

The elderly face psychological, emotional, physical and other lifestyle-related changes. They have to react and adapt to the new living conditions associated with emerging or worsening disabilities. We investigated how the elderly with age-related disabilities respond to new challenges in a qualitative study of home-dwelling seniors and assumed that active and positive adoption of adaptive strategies and patterns is a basic prerequisite for successful adaptation and increases the quality of life.

We examined how the elderly with age-related disabilities adapt in food-related activities such as food choice, shopping, cooking, commensality, and sharing food and food-related experiences.

We focused on food intake as it is one of the most important and crucial components of elderly life activities, essential for fulfilling nutritional and social needs.

In our empirical study, we used a multi-method ethnographic approach involving interviews and observations, allowing us to explore the eating practices of a group of 20 respondents.

We identified specific patterns that may shed light on the interpretation of adaptation patterns focused on maintaining a dignified and independent diet even in the presence of disabilities. We also identified creative approaches in implementing and maintaining of social bonds, and creating alternatives to previous eating patterns to maintain the quality of life.

The results of our research are important for the institutional support of seniors with disabilities and for setting up tools that facilitate disabled seniors' adaptability in negotiating eating patterns in a changing social and cultural context.

Key words: elderly, disability, adaptive strategies, food.

Panel OP087
The intersectionality of anthropology, ageing, and disability studies [Medical Anthropology Europe (MAE)]
  Session 1