Empowering the Elderly?

How ›Help to Self-Help‹ Health Interventions Shape Ageing and Eldercare in Denmark

Health programmes that offer ›help to self-help‹ are meant to empower ageing adults to remain independent and self-sufficient at home for as long as possible. But what happens when the private home becomes a political realm in which state intervention and individual agency happen simultaneously? Based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in a Danish municipality, Amy Clotworthy describes how both health professionals and elderly citizens negotiate the political discourses about health and ageing that frame their relational encounter. By elucidating some of the conflicts, paradoxes, and negotiations that occur, she provides important insights into the contemporary organisation of eldercare.

40,00 € *

2020-07-15, 262 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-8376-5211-6

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Amy Clotworthy

Amy Clotworthy, University of Copenhagen, Dänemark

1. Why did you choose this topic?

Many contemporary social-welfare programmes and public-health initiatives contain a neoliberal emphasis on citizens taking responsibility for their own health and remaining independent and productive for as long as possible. I wanted to examine the effects of such ambitions with regards to eldercare: What are the implications for people who have long been positioned as ›in need‹ of health and welfare services, and what actually happens when health professionals offer them ›help to self-help‹?

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

My analytical insights contribute new knowledge about how the complex, ›limited‹ aspects of ageing cannot be dealt with by simply promoting a ›limitless‹ Third Age. Rather, societies should accept certain limitations and work to build stronger, more inclusive communities of care. Although my work focuses on eldercare in Denmark, I also point to how certain sociopolitical discourses and policies could affect any of us when we experience a health crisis or a significant, destabilising life event.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

In many Western countries, there is a growing emphasis on individualised personal responsibility for health. Politicians and health professionals are also interested in how to enhance patient engagement, person-centred care, shared decision-making, and particularly how to empower elderly citizens. My analysis illuminates how health professionals' moral imperative to care may subvert the discourses of personal responsibility and `active ageing' that are prioritised by many government officials.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

I would like to speak with philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt. What does she think about the contemporary neoliberal discourses regarding individual responsibility, rationality, and independence, and does she believe that such discourses affect an individual's agency and intrinsic power to act? I would also like to learn what Arendt thinks of my analysis of the phenomenological, relational negotiations of power, space, and agency that occur in the context of home-health encounters.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

This book examines how municipal health professionals attempt to empower older people in order to fulfil certain political objectives.

Amy Clotworthy
Empowering the Elderly? How ›Help to Self-Help‹ Health Interventions Shape Ageing and Eldercare in Denmark
transcript Verlag
kart., Dispersionsbindung, 6 SW-Abbildungen
SOC013000 MED058200 SOC022000
Medizin, Körper, Alter
Ageing Studies, Cultural Gerontology, Anthropology, Sociology
Ageing, Health Initiatives, Eldercare, Reablement, Denmark, Aging Studies, Body, Medicine, Care, Qualitative Social Research, Cultural Studies

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