Navigation Links
Study examines how elderly go from being perceived as capable consumer to 'old person'
Date:11/12/2012

CORVALLIS, Ore. Many baby boomers want to improve the way people view aging, but an Oregon State University researcher has found they often reinforce negative stereotypes of old age when interacting with their own parents, coloring the way those seniors experience their twilight years.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with consumers in their late 80s, their family members, and paid caregivers, Oregon State University researcher Michelle Barnhart found that study participants viewed someone as "old" when that person consumed in ways consistent with society's concept of older people, and not simply when he or she experienced inabilities that come with increased chronological age.

"Our society devalues old age in many ways, and this is particularly true in the United States, where individualism, self-reliance, and independence are highly valued," Barnhart said. "Almost every stereotype we associate with being elderly is something negative, from being 'crotchety' and unwilling to change to being forgetful.

"Conflicts come up when someone does not think of themselves as old," Barnhart added, "but people in their family or caregiving group are treating them as such."

The study is now available online and will be published in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

Barnhart, who is an assistant professor of marketing at OSU, said her study explains how consumption activities, which can range from buying groceries to attending medical appointments, serve as a means of identifying someone as old. They also serve as a venue for working through conflicts that arise when older consumers who do not identify themselves as old are treated as an "old person" by family members and service providers.

"When people in their 80s or 90s exhibited characteristics that society tends to associate with people who are not old, such as being aware, active, safe, or independent, they were viewed and treated as not old," Barnhart said. "In this way, they were able to age without getting old."

When perception-triggered conflicts arose, older consumers used various strategies to negotiate their identity with others. Sometimes they attempted to convince others of their not-old identity through verbal arguments. Other times, they tried to prove that they were not old by independently performing activities. Another strategy was to force a change, such as shutting out their younger family member entirely.

"Abbie," an 89-year-old woman from Texas, told Barnhart when she went to her doctor with her daughters, the physician would only talk to her children.

"If younger people bring you in, they think it's because you're not, I guess, lucid enough to understand what they're saying," Abbie said. "But that irked me so bad that I wanted to grab him by the collar and say, 'Look, talk to me! I'm the patient.'" To avoid this type of treatment, Abbie barred her daughters from the doctor's exam room during future appointments.

Barnhart said the adult children of elderly consumers in the study were primarily in their 50s, and often voiced that baby boomers would change how people view old age, but she said unless society stops devaluing and marginalizing older people, this will not happen.

"Unless we change the way we view old age, the generation younger than the boomers will treat them the same way as soon as they show a few more wrinkles, or seem a bit shaky on their feet," she said.

In addition, Barnhart said policies that view aging and health as issues faced by individuals need to change to reflect a larger group decision-making process. Programs such as Medicare, for instance, may need to shift to provide services not just for the elderly consumer, but their support networks to help them deal with the inevitable loss of ability that comes with aging.

"Losing a bit of your independence by getting help from others doesn't have to equate with becoming a devalued and marginalized member of society," she said. "Everybody ages, you can't stop that. But what we can do is respond to someone's limitations in a way that preserves dignity and value."


'/>"/>
Contact: Michelle Barnhart
michelle.barnhart@bus.oregonstate.edu
541-737-1455
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Study Explores Possible Tie Between Fever, Flu in Pregnancy and Autism
2. Many Smokers Light Up With Kids in Car: Study
3. Early Exposure to Stress at Home Affects Girls Brains, Study Says
4. Black Patients With Kidney Cancer Fare Worse Than Whites: Study
5. Study shows how chronic inflammation can cause cancer
6. National study shows protective eyewear reduces eye, head, and facial injuries
7. Study: Rheumatoid Arthritis Plus Depression May Be Deadly
8. Cataract Patients Relax to a Soothing Beat, Study Says
9. New form of brain plasticity: Study shows how social isolation disrupts myelin production
10. Income May Influence Outcome of Knee Replacement Surgery: Study
11. Hip Surgery Increases Stroke Risk in Older Patients: Study
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Study examines how elderly go from being perceived as capable consumer to 'old person'
(Date:7/21/2017)... NEW ORLEANS, La. (PRWEB) , ... July 21, ... ... tool to allow 4th-year medical students improve their chances of acceptance to a ... particularly for those who have earned degrees outside the U.S. , According to ...
(Date:7/21/2017)... ... July 21, 2017 , ... Sharon Kleyne is proud of ... her research center at Bio-Logic Aqua Research® Water Life Science®, has been released ... of sufferers of blindness. “We think that Nature’s Tears® EyeMist® will contribute to ...
(Date:7/21/2017)... TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA (PRWEB) , ... July 21, ... ... with over 80% follow-up at 10 years, researchers from the Multicenter Orthopaedics Outcome ... knee-related quality of life a decade after surgery, though activity levels decline over ...
(Date:7/21/2017)... CANADA (PRWEB) , ... July 21, 2017 , ... ... insight into why concussion rates are on the rise, say researchers presenting their ... today in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. , “The combination of evaluating the patterns of ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... ChenMed , a ... joined JenCare Senior Medical Center as Richmond Chief Medical Officer. Dr. ... Medicine, and Associate Chief Medical Officer of Ambulatory Services for the UVA Health System, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:7/5/2017)... Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ORMP ) ... company focused on the development of oral drug delivery systems, ... Securities Authority to dual-list its common stock on the Tel ... on the TASE on July 12, 2017 under the ticker ... it is expected that Oramed will be included in the ...
(Date:7/5/2017)... , July 5, 2017   BioLife Solutions ... developer, manufacturer and marketer of proprietary clinical grade cell ... freeze media ("BioLife"), today announced that it has ... debt holder and largest shareholder, to modify its existing ... Pursuant to the modification, WAVI agreed to exchange its ...
(Date:6/30/2017)... ROCKVILLE, Md. , June 30, 2017 ... that since the start of May, at least ten ... financings include private investments, public offerings and a loan ... $3.3 million to almost $80 million.  Kalorama Information provides ... customers of its Diagnostics Knowledge Center. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: