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Inequalities of AgingParadoxes of Independence in American Home Care$
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Elana D. Buch

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479810734

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479810734.001.0001

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Generating Independence

Generating Independence

Older Adults’ Life Histories

(p.33) 1 Generating Independence
Inequalities of Aging

Elana D. Buch

NYU Press

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.

Keywords:   independence, older adults, care, reciprocal relationships, well-being, care workers, family, life history

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