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Session Overview
RN01_01a_IC: Active Ageing & Wellbeing
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Eleanna Galanaki, Athens University of Economics and Business
Location: Intercontinental - Ypsilon III
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Level 1

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Women in transition: profiles and wellbeing practices in the age of menopause

Giulia Mascagni1, Andrea Giannini2

1Dipartimento di Scienze politche, Università di Pisa, Italy; 2Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Università di Pisa, Italy

Midlife is a phase of profound personal and social change for women: a number of life events involving a change of role and/or a redefinition of identity take place around that time.

The paper presents some reflections based on a work in progress research devoted to focuses on a nodal passage of life biological but not least social: the menopausal transition. Through the analysis of the literature and original data, it studies and clearly identifies profiles and practices of mature adult women, considering the intervening influences between spheres of life, social configurations and health (perceived and objective).

The field research was conducted in two phases, each with specific tools: a survey to key informants; and focus groups typologically organized with women in menopause and perimenopause.

Three are the issues in particular better highlighted:

I) The experience of the bodily changes related to aging, along with the awareness of the loss of fertility and the related effects on self-image.

II) The personal experience of menopausal symptoms (light or pervasive) and the potential interference with personal and social activities.

III) The strategies implemented to deal with change.

The analysis of this case studies provided a new and clearer insight into the condition and perception of menopause in relation to health and quality of life; also, the multidisciplinary approach allowed to better define the framework of the main elements - tangible/intangible; individual/collective; environmental - which act as an incentive or as a barrier to redefine women’s self-image, roles and daily life.

Keywords: midlife; menopause; health; successful ageing; social determinants of health.

Timing, duration and order: The influence of housing histories on later life wellbeing

Bram Vanhoutte1, Morten Wahrendorf2, James Nazroo1

1University of Manchester, United Kingdom; 2University of Düsseldorf, Germany

The long arm of childhood, social mobility and the risk exposure that accumulative (dis)advantage entails, are three powerful, interrelated life course mechanisms that are often tested using relatively crude empirical measures. This contribution wants to highlight the possibilities of life history data in grasping the importance of timing, order and duration of housing over the life course. Housing is an important proxy for life course socio-economic position, as it is the most basic form of wealth accumulation in the UK. This contribution makes use of the residential life history data, from birth up until the age of 50, collected in wave 3 of the English longitudinal study of ageing (ELSA), in a combination of sequence analysis, cluster analysis and regression techniques. A longer duration of renting and owning accommodation is related to respectively worse and better later life wellbeing. Moving more in childhood does not have implications for later life wellbeing, while frequent moving in young adulthood has positive effects on affective and eudemonic wellbeing. Moving more in midlife results in lower life satisfaction. Ten distinct housing careers emerge, illustrating the importance of accommodating heterogeneity in the population. Downward housing trajectories stand out as detrimental to later life wellbeing, while growing up abroad as a child is beneficial.

Spanish elderly are reflecting on their active ageing. How their views differ from the scientific literature and policy making?

Vicente Rodriguez1, Gloria Fernandez-Mayoralas2, Fermina Rojo-Pérez3, María Eugenia Prieto-Flores4

1Spanish National Research Council, Spain; 2Spanish National Research Council, Spain; 3Spanish National Research Council, Spain; 4National University at Distance, Spain

Introduction: The Spanish population is becoming older and this offers alternatives for the development of an active living in different social contexts. There are multiple efforts to make active ageing an operative concept under professional and non-professional perspectives (research, social agents, organizations, older-adults individuals).

Objective: This paper aims at analysing how older-adults in Spain build their active ageing, by studying the dimensions, factors, and consequences that derive from their way of living. A comparison with other active ageing perspectives, especially those coming from the literature and the documents that define public policies, is also intended.

Data and method: Seven focus groups, composed by 50 individuals older than 50, all of them participants in the Longitudinal Aging Study in Spain, Pilot Survey, ELES-PS, as well as 10 in-depth interviews with senior social organizations officers were collected to approach the lay active ageing perspective. Literature and policy papers review of active ageing has been also deployed to make a contrast with the lay approach. All the data have been analysed with Atlas.ti.

Results: Older people in Spain do not clearly assume what active ageing is for them, but their discourse allows to identify some referential aspects about the conditioning factors of their behaviour leading to an active ageing retirement, offering outstanding ideas about their personal, cultural, social activities, their leisure time in general, their involvement in some social participation interests and the benefits they get. Literature on active ageing and policy documents will allow comparisons between lay, scientific and policy perspectives.

Rethinking the concept of successful aging: a disability studies approach

Håkan Jönson1, Tove Harnett1, Annika Taghizadeh Larsson2

1Lund University, Sweden; 2Linköping University, Sweden

The theoretical concept of successful aging has been closely related to individual responsibility for maintaining health, high physical and cognitive functions. Critics have argued that successful aging models reinforce the marginalization and increase the stigma associated with diseases and impairments in older ages. The aim of this presentation is to redirect attention from the – much criticized – normative and individualized character of successful aging, and rework it into a new model inspired by disability policies, and in particular the emphasis on equal rights that is present in the Scandinavian normalization principle. The new model – which we refer to as the Scandinavian Model of Successful Aging – is based on comparisons of possibilities as means to argue for the right to live like “others”. According to the proposed model, success is a matter of how society enables or disables individuals as specified into two criteria: a) being enabled to have an active engagement with life, like others in the third age, and B) being enabled to maintain a high level of function, like others in the third age. The potential of the model is discussed using interviews and participant observations from three projects involving persons who have aged with severe disabilities and help in the form of personal assistance. Interviewees described how the flexible help in the form of personal assistance enabled them to maintain an active engagement in life and a high level of function through activities that have been described as typical for the third age: exercise, travel, studies, research, hobbies, participation in voluntary work and political activities.

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