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Accepted Paper:

What does it mean to age “successfully” or “unsuccessfully” in long-term care? An ethnographic exploration in aged care homes in Australia  
Angela Zhang (The University of Adelaide)

Paper short abstract:

The research article addresses the gap in gerontology's understanding of how older adults, living with severe functional decline in long-term care, experience and perceive wellbeing. It aims to integrate person-centred care strategies and resources into the conceptual framework of successful ageing.

Paper long abstract:

The onset of old age was previously viewed as a phase linked with disease and disability, and as suggested by the disengagement theory, it was considered a time for detaching from social engagements and activities. More current theories of ageing, like successful ageing, emerged as a counter response to earlier theories, focusing on remaining free of disease and disability, and engagements in social interactions and relationships. However, as anthropologists and critical gerontologists have long argued, Rowe and Kahn’s notion of successful aging is a sociocultural construct that fails to acknowledge the global trend of ageing with extended life expectancy and healthy life years, alongside an increasing prevalence of complex decline and disability. This oversight is evident as individuals receiving institutional care due to severe functional decline are often excluded from research on active and successful aging. The subjective perspectives and experiences, as well as the preconditions for successful aging in long-term care, have been rarely analysed.

With its recent development, the construct of successful aging has been expanded beyond biomedical or psychological models towards a comprehensive model that includes ageing with disability and care needs. This empirical study contributes to the discussion by providing insights into how wellbeing is experienced and perceived by older adults in the context of residential aged care in Australia. Drawing on long-term and in-depth fieldwork and interview data, it aims to understand the multiple ways in which successful aging can be experienced, including the role of person-centred care strategies and resources.

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