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Lifestyles in later life: identity, choice and stigma: AKTIVE working paper 5

Author(s)

HAMBLIN Kate

Publisher(s):

University of Leeds. Centre for International Research on Care, Labour and Equal

This paper explores the identities and lifestyle choices of older people participating in the AKTIVE study and considers how telecare can support the maintenance of independence and preferred identities. Focusing on older people living at home with different types of frailty, the AKTIVE project aimed both to enhance understanding of how they (and those supporting them) accessed, engaged with and used the telecare equipment supplied to them, and to explore the consequences for them of doing so. The paper focuses on strategies and situations which enable older people to retain important elements of their identity, including their attachment to home and good relations within families. It also examines the circumstances in which telecare can be a source of stigma for older people, compromising self-perceptions and viewed as a sign of dependency. The paper draws on research evidence about who the older people in the AKTIVE study felt they ‘really are’. Using three key concepts, ‘identity’, ‘choice’ and ‘stigma’, it explores the subjective realities older people shared in talk and interactions during research visits over six to nine months in 2012-13 and outlines the ‘identity-management strategies’, which are conceptualised as a form of resilience, used by older people to maintain or protect cherished elements of their identities and the role of telecare in these choices, behaviours and strategies. (Edited publisher abstract)

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