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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2011): Care of the elderly - overseas

Ambiguous gain: uncertain benefits of service use for dementia carers

B. T. Lloyd and C. Stirling

Sociology of Health and Illness, vol. 33, 2011, p. 899-913

A range of community services has been set up in Western countries to support informal carers of people with dementia. Paradoxically, however, engagement with dementia services may produce unintended negative consequences, resulting in increased confusion and a reduction of agency for carers. Drawing on an analysis of three salient aspects of caregiver identities (the emplaced self, the valued self and the secure self), this research shows how engagement with bureaucratic systems can expose carers' already fragile identities to stressors. For example, invasion of their home by professionals can threaten or weaken the boundaries of carers' emplaced selves. If they understand service use as a personal moral failure, the loss to their valued selves can challenge the basis of their self-worth.

Baby-boomers and the 'denaturalisation' of care-giving in Quebec

N. Guberman, J.-P. Lavoie and I. Olazabal

Ageing and Society, vol. 31, 2011, p. 1141-1158

Baby-boomers in Quebec find themselves caught between the modern obligations of personal self-fulfilment and self-actualisation, notably through paid employment, and the constraints linked to their responsibilities as care-givers to frail elderly relatives. To feel successful, they are driven to maintain their other roles as workers, lovers, parents, grandparents, friends and social activists. When circumstances, notably the lack of sufficient public service provision, oblige them to prioritise their caring responsibilities, they feel betrayed, or at least on the sidelines of society. As their principal strategy for reconciling the contradictory imperatives they face is to delegate personal and nursing care to others, the lack of public support is severely criticised. Their inability to put into practice their conception of caring as a joint venture with public services leads to an inability to juggle all the aspects of their lives and the need to make sacrifices. Moreover, becoming a caregiver is not seen as a normal life transition. Baby-boomers in Quebec no longer see care-giving as a natural role for middle-aged women. What they regard as normal is having a professional life, a social life and activities enabling one to take care of oneself.

Communication in elderly care: cross-cultural perspectives

P. Backhaus (editor)

London: Continuum, 2011

The topic of communication in elderly care is becoming ever more pressing, with an aging world population and burgeoning numbers of people needing care. This book looks at this critical but underanalyzed area. It examines the way people talk to each other in eldercare settings from an interdisciplinary and globally cross-cultural perspective. The small body of available research points to eldercare communication taking place with its own specific conditions and contexts. Often, there is the presence of various mental/physical ailments on the part of the care receivers, scarcity of time, resources and/or flexibility on the part of the care givers, and a mutual necessity of providing/receiving assistance with intimate personal activities. The book combines theory and practice, with linguistically informed analysis of real-life interaction in eldercare settings across the world.

Critical reflections on a social inclusion approach for an ageing Australia

C.-W. Lui and others

Australian Social Work, vol. 64, 2011, p. 266-282

The principles of social inclusion and social exclusion have informed much policy debate in Australia since the late 1990s. The social inclusion approach to policy was given a huge boost with the election of a Labour government in 2007. It opens up new perspectives and ways to address issues of social disadvantage and welfare. By redirecting the focus to issues of integration, participation and social capital, it provides an opportunity for ageing policy to break away from the model of 'apocalyptic ageing' as well as the economic and health frameworks that dominated the discourse on ageing under the Liberal-Conservative government in power 1996-2007. This paper reviews the development of the social inclusion approach and examines the challenges for social workers in adopting such an approach to ageing issues in Australia.

Old age identity in social welfare practice

M. Wilinska and C. Henning

Qualitative Social Work, vol.10, 2011, p.346-363

From a position of professional power, social welfare practitioners construct identities for clients that suit their vision of a social problem. Thus the identity professionals construct for older people categorises them as dependent. This study explored the process of old age identity construction in a non-governmental organisation in Poland. Results show a complex process in which welfare professionals create the identities of preferred clients. Social welfare practice then ends up being oriented towards imagined client identities that have little to do with real people. The 'fictional unity' of the old age identity produced within the organisation analysed was constraining for the old people affected by it but enabling for organisational actions designed to fight old age.

Population ageing in Central and Eastern Europe: societal and policy implications

A. Hoff (editor)

Farnham: Ashgate, 2011

During the 1990s, Europe became the first continent with a 'mature society', where people aged 60 years and older outnumber children and as this trend continues, the resulting 'ageing societies' will differ from previous societies in their make-up, in their needs, and in their resource allocation. Population ageing poses an even greater challenge to the post-communist societies of Central and Eastern Europe. While still struggling to cope with the aftermath of the economic and social transition process following the breakdown of communism, they are now facing even more rapid demographic change than Western Europe. This book brings together leading scholars to present their understanding of the processes underlying the very rapid population ageing in Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to discussing the main demographic drivers behind this development in each of the countries examined, this volume also discusses its implications for policy, healthcare provision, workforces, intergenerational family relations, the social cohesion of future Central and Eastern European societies, and the quality of life experienced by their citizens.

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