Treating aging as a disease has led to what Carrol Estes termed “the aging enterprise:” the development of services to house and care for elders. Much is known about the power structures in such facilities, but the issue of socio-economic decline and its relation to elder health has not received a great deal of attention. This thesis analyzes interview and participant-observation data from a sample of residents in an assisted living facility (ALF) to ethnographically explore the way physical and socio-economic experiences of decline emerge in participant narratives. Findings indicate elders construct identities of illness that draw from institutional discourses that diminish their personhood. The narrative structure of declining health is also found to be compatible with other socio-economic descriptions of decline. The multiple discursive patterns of decline culminate in a model of ALF resident dependency. Based on this model, recommendations are made to affirm elder personhood and enact agency in ALF.
|Commitee:||Jaffe, Alexandra, Loewe, Ronald|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Cultural anthropology, Aging, Sociolinguistics|
|Keywords:||Aging, Decline, Financial stress, Identity, Illness, Narrative|
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