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Defining the new normal in aging
Date:2/27/2013

o care for now. We need to find ways to support older adults with chronic disease to live well according to their own definitions of health and normality."

O'Rourke, a registered nurse whose research focuses on quality of life for people with dementia, points out that many Canadian seniors are well enough to live at home, yet 80 per cent have some form of chronic disease. With that large a majority, putting the onus on individual choices to age successfully sends the wrong message.

"The implication is that if you have a chronic illness as an older adult, you've somehow failed in this goal of aging without chronic disease, which is perhaps not that realistic a goal."

Sound the alarm, a grey wave is here

O'Rourke says much of the policy work, research and teaching about aging also relies on statistics to describe Canada's greying population, such as estimates that, by 2026, one-fifth of the country will be over the age of 65. But those statistics frame aging as a problem to be fixed, she says, and that affects how we view seniors.

McIntyre feels these implications, and not in a positive way.

"When people think of seniors, they think of their limitations instead of their capabilities," she says. "The huge majority of us are doing very well on our own, thank you."

O'Rourke points out that an aging society can also be viewed as a success story because it means the majority of us are living well into our older years.

"Just because something requires resources doesn't necessarily mean it's a huge problem."


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Contact: Bryan Alary
bryan.alary@ualberta.ca
780-492-0436
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

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