Older Adults’ Life Histories
The first chapter of the book draws on the life histories of three very different older adults, exploring how elders came to understand the ideas of independence over their long histories of experience. These histories reveal the stakes of care for older adults and how they distinguish good care from bad. Older adults did not imagine independence as requiring them to sustain their lives without assistance from anyone else. They understood independence as generated through reciprocal relationships in which they contributed equitably to the well-being of those upon whom they relied. Older adults took solace in the fact that their home care workers were paid, seeing this as a more independent manner in which to receive care than relying on unpaid but morally obligated relatives. In this way, home care buttressed older adults from becoming a burden on those they loved, protecting them from the always present specter of dependence.
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