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Ageing and family

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By Cliff Picton, Peter E Foreman, Liz Morrison

Published: 1999
Pages: 152 (PDF version)


Longevity is now an established destination for the majority of old people around the world. This should not, however, be grounds for complacency, as being very old and poor, sick, homeless, is still an accompaniment for millions.

As Western cultures become increasingly youth-orientated, tensions mount surrounding issues of growing old. Often a struggle of cultural values begins to develop, with aged populations pushed to the peripheries.

Ageing and Family focuses on issues of cultural treatment of ageing and caretaking for the elderly, including:

  • Developing continuing education options for elder role identity
  • Willingness to care for parents or other older family members
  • Complexities of caregiving and the need for enhanced social services
  • Ageing differences between indigenous and non-indigenous populations

This Special Issue of the Journal of Family Studies is significantly focused on some of the many different aspects of care that are the essential marks of an inclusive society. The United Nations rightly enjoins us to work to integrate older people into society in ways that validate their capacity to be contributors as well as sharers. Too often we hear older people regretting that they have been pushed to the sidelines to become spectators rather than participants. Our distinguished contributors show that this need not be so as there are many important caring roles to perform that provide mutual benefits regardless of age.

In addition to a range of scholarly research papers - all with a caring theme - we have broken new ground with a section on Ongoing Projects which have a public policy focus that acts as a pointer to the need for the progressive implementation of ideas, insights, and strategies. Interestingly, each member of the family is examined in terms of role, function, and need. Thus inclusiveness is achieved. Dementia, which is a particularly devastating illness primarily afflicting older populations and their families, is examined and two authors conclude that public policy and support services must be increasingly developed to address long-term care and to ease the burden of caregivers. Cahill stresses the importance of carer options to prevent potential elder abuse. The discrepancies in the ageing process between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians are explored, along with the vital need for equal access to elder care services.

Practice Notes shifts the emphasis to older people doing things for themselves and is therefore an affirmation of ability, motivation, and achievement. Perhaps the most liberating thing we can say to ourselves, as well as to older people, is that there is always something that we can contribute. In a society that still clings to its stereotypes, however, we need more people to say it, and to say it loudly.

This Special Issue is important and thought-provoking reading for researchers, lecturers, and students of family studies, as well as practitioners and other professionals in the field of aged care, or anyone interested in issues of ageing and caretaking.

Table of Contents

  • Editorial
  • Cliff Picton, Peter E Foreman, Liz Morrison
  • Lifelong learning for Grandparents: Cultural considerations in Taiwan and the United States
    Robert D Strom
  • The American culture of caring: An overview of beliefs and practices
    Otto O von Mering
  • Phenomenology as a method for the study of informal care
    Lindsay J Paul
  • Caring for aged parents: Phenomenology and relationships
    Lindsay J Paul
  • Intentions to care for a spouse: Gender differences in anticipated willingness to care and expected burden
    Yvonne D Wells
  • Caring in families: What motivates wives, daughters, and daughters-in-law to provide dementia care?
    Suzanne M Cahill

Brief Reports and Ongoing Projects

  • Making dementia a public policy issue
    Rosemary V Calder
  • Celebrating the International Year of Older Persons: Younging longer or ageing younger?
    Leon D Earle

Practice Notes Supplement

  • Beyond IYOP: Sustaining the programs developed in the International Year of Older Persons
    Colleen Wilson
  • Health care chaplaincy research: A need within aged care facilities
    Lindsay B Carey
  • 'Reins Theory': Make sure you are at the right end!
    Michael H Lindell

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