“Some Days are Better than Others”: Older Persons and Everyday Life in an Institutional Setting
Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Croatia
The term “everyday life” is very flexible, even ambivalent, but extremely important for sociologists (Bennett 2005). The domain of “trivial” and “banal” things, academically neglected and theoretically downplayed for a long time, has in recent decades become an inspirational field of sociological interest, and thus Sztompka (2008) has referred to this “focus on everyday life” as a “new turn in sociology.” Everyday life always takes place in a specific social context as well as a localized area (Sztompka 2008). The key question in this paper is: What does everyday life in a home for older persons look like for its residents? This is a research question that intersects different dimensions, categories, and aspects. Homes for older persons are a “very special place” (Backhaus 2009), that is, complex social universes with stratified and often contradictory meanings immersed in networks of rules, codes, norms, and expectations. As institutions strongly defined by the categories of age and gender, they are social sites where older persons are not merely passive observers (Somera 1997), but autonomous agents who create their daily existence by themselves. What does their daily schedule look like? What do they do and what meanings do these daily activities have for them? These are just some of the questions that we are addressing here. The presentation is based on an analysis of interviews with residents of the Home for Older Persons Maksimir in Zagreb. Research is based on qualitative methodology, with an emphasis on the voice of the silent generation (+80).
“Does It Matter What I Think?” Care Preferences Of Older People In Finland.
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
The landscape of social care services for older people in Finland has been in a state of flux for quite a while. The policy of ageing in place, supporting older people to continue independent living in their own homes with services, has been presented as a key to reduce welfare expenditure in greying societies. Moreover, the idea of being able to choose among service providers is attached to the notion of active responsible individuals ageing well, which is used as legitimation for replacing publicly funded universal services with more market-oriented private provisions. This study looks into older people's care preferences by asking from which sources would older people like to receive services, what kinds of reasoning they use to explain these preferences, and does this coincide with the actual sources of support (e.g., public, private, informal). Mixed methods approach employs quantitative data from Everyday life, support and services -survey and qualitative interview data gathered in Moving in old age: Transitions in housing and care -project on older people aged 75 and above who live at home or in service housing in Finland. Preliminary analysis indicates that the majority of older people continue to prefer to receive social care services from the public sector. A sense of entitlement is attached to these with imagery of reliability, affordability and adequacy. However, some considered public services unobtainable. The least preferred and not much-used sources of assistance were from relatives along with friends and the voluntary organizations.
Hazardous Human Waste
Tel-Aviv University, Israel
Bauman (2004) asserted that globalization results in a vast production of rubbish; both inhuman as well as human. He then identified key examples of social groups recognized and assigned as “human waste.” The homo sacer, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, etc.
I propose that a crucial point escaped Bauman’s macro theory.
My data was gathered from social networking sites (SNSs); comprised of family members caring for people with advanced stages of dementia who lived at home during their final days.
My findings suggested that people with advanced stages of dementia, as well as their migrant caregivers, are both examples of human waste assigned to sealed social dumping sites. For example, family members continually monitored their impaired loved ones; confined their bodies with different apparatuses and forced them to receive medical care that made them suffer. They also encouraged one another to always monitor the activities of the "dangerous" migrant caregivers, and they utilized the SNSs to warn one another of potential threats emanating from the caregivers. They remained vigilant; they didn't trust the caregivers and refused their “outrages demands.”
In contrary, family members "acknowledged the dependency" (MacIntyre, 1999) of the elderly people. They regularly discussed the possible wishes of their impaired relatives and cherished them. Moreover, they did their best to protect them.
Based on this microanalysis I propose to subdivide between two categories of social groups considered as human waste: “non-hazardous human waste,” and “hazardous human waste.” This new conceptualization refines Bauman’s theory and contributes to the sociology of “otherness.”
Public Policy and Cultural Value in Museum-led Dementia Care. The case study of House of Memories
Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom
Drawing on the case of House of Memories (HoM), this paper discusses the instrumental value of arts and culture in dementia care, in relation to the civic and social responsibility of publicly-funded arts and cultural organisations. HoM is a museums-led dementia awareness-training programme focus on the reminiscence potential of museum collections. Created by National Museums Liverpool (NML) in 2012, with funding from the Department of Health (UK), it provides dementia caregivers (formal and informal) resources to support people to live well with the condition.
Across the policymaking spectrum there is a call for cross-sector collaboration to stimulate innovation, social inclusion, and the production of evidence-informed research outcomes to enlighten policies and decision-making. HoM has been referenced within leading policy documents as a creative intervention that focuses positively upon the individual’s quality of life.
Within this scope, since 2012, Crossing Boundaries: The value of museums in dementia care has been collecting data on HoM through a mix-method strategy. This paper address the suggestive findings of the value of the HoM programme to i) increased awareness and understanding of dementia and its implications; ii) improved subjective wellbeing for professional dementia carers; iii) skills development including listening, communication and professional empathy; iv) improved capacity for (individual and collective) critical, reflective care practice; v) confidence in trying new, creative approaches to dementia care; and vi) increased cultural engagement with museums.
Equally, this paper contributes to the debate of the role of social science research to demonstrate the value of artistic and cultural interventions in preventing and postponing longer-term conditions such as frailty and subsequent dependence on acute medical interventions.