Successful aging: abilities, strategies and understandings
(Det goda åldrandet: kompetenser, strategier och föreställningar)
Gerontological research has shown that elderly people find it
problematic to become dependent upon other people and upon different social support programs in order to manage their everyday
lives. A variety of studies have also shown that elders develop an awareness of their declining physical abilities when they
start having health problems. There is, however, very little research on how this awareness might affect the strategies that
elders utilize in order to age well and no research at all on what this awareness might mean to the understandings of successful
aging that elders uphold. This project aims therefore to study how 'cognitively healthy' elders with minor physical health
problems handle the transition that becoming a home help care recipient implies. This research focuses on the different strategies
that these elders utilize in order to age well as well as on the implications that these might have for their understandings
of successful aging. The focus is on both elders that have recently undergone the transition in question as well as those
that are in need of help in order to manage their daily lives but who refuse to accept home-help care services. Primary
Investigator: Dr Sandra Torres. Collaborating Researcher: Prof. Gunhild Hammarström. Research grant awarded by: The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet). Project duration: 2003-2004
Social Change and Social Policy for Elderly
As the welfare state is under debate and social policy programmes
are changing, today's models of formal and informal care may be less appropriate in a future society. A study on values and
attitudes to various care forms is performed in a survey (2000 Ss, age 20 - 85). General welfare attitudes and preferences
between vaying models of organisation, performance and financing are studied and analysed out of a gender, a generation and
a class perspective. Prof. Gunhild Hammarström is mainly responsible for this research.
Informal Care in a Life History Perspective
The informal care of the elderly in Sweden is extensive and
mainly provided by family and friends. We know that, as in other countries, this support is most often given by women. What
we know too little about is how such support, or the lack of it, is integrated in family cultures and/or the types of lives
led by potential care givers. This research aims at reaching a deeper understanding of the possibilities and hazards of informal
care by analyzing this in a gender/class/familiy and life history perspective. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are
used in this research, for which Dr Marianne Winqvist is mainly responsible.
Aging, Body Image and Identity
In spite of Western culture's obsessive regard for body appearance
as the main indicator of old age, social gerontological theories have often disregarded the body and the meaning of body-associations
for people's identity during the aging process (e.g. expressed as "the ageless self").
When theories of aging have taken the body into account, these
theories have regarded bodily decline as the epitome of aging, comprised by a contrast between a subjective experience of
inner youthfulness and an outer process of biological decay (expressed as "the aging mask"). Reliable empirical studies about
elderly people's own body-associations and identity-conceptions are however missing.
The purpose of this project is to study the relationship between
people's own body-associations and identity-conceptions in an extensive survey of individuals between 20 and 85 years of age.
Among others; we intend to scrutinize the extent to which people themselves are experiencing their own bodies, in the negative,
way that theories of social gerontology and the ideals of popular culture propose and to identify the categories of individuals
who might do so. Responsible: Dr Peter Öberg and Prof. Lars Tornstam.
A Sociological study of Religious and Spiritual Coping Strategies among male and female Cancer Patients
The initial aim of this project is to identify religious and
spiritually oriented coping strategies used by men and women cancer patients. It will also be studied if age plays a roll
in this respect. i.e. if there is any difference between the strategies used by elderly and younger generations. The eventual
different strategies used by men and women will also be identified. The empirical data for the proposed study will be rely
on cancer patients. Obviously this is an enormous subject for a limited project, especially concerning the very difference
between divergent religions. It is therefore chosen to focus the attention on the patients who are socialized in cultural
settings where Christianity is dominant. In this way those Swedes who are socialized in a Jewish or Muslim or other than Christian
culture are not studied in this inquiry. This does not however mean that the chosen informants necessarily practice Christianity.
There are among informants those who are non-believers. The method chosen is semi-structured interviews. Dr Fereshteh Ahmadi is mainly responsible for this study. Detailed information about
the project can be found here.
Identities of older women
In social gerontology women's aging has generally been described
as a painful experience. The same perspective is prevalent in feminist theories. Results from studies on younger women is
taken as valid for older women without further consideration. In this way, the importance of age per se has been neglected
and aging as a base for personal development is left out. A common assumption is that older women are exposed for a double
jeopardy - both by age and by gender. Women's aging is described as painful as older women are supposed to be unable to match
youthful norms of beauty and they are also supposed to be unable to continue to fulfil care giving tasks. To the extent that
these assumptions have been tested empirically, research shows contradictory results. There is a lack of concrete data about
older women's own understanding of their reality. Most of all, there is a lack of studies using other perspectives that the
dominating perspective of women's aging as a misery.
The purpose of this study is to examine which other descriptions
of older women's reality appear when a salutogenetic perspective, emphasizing positive aspects, is used.
Clary Krekula is the main responsible for this study.
Cultural representations of older drivers
Older drivers have been viewed in relation to traffic safety
at least for the last two decades. In recent years the perspective has changed to incorporate a perspective of mobility. Furthermore,
there are ongoing debates and discussions of how to understand "the problem" of older drivers. There has even been suggestions
that the discourse of traffic safety of older drivers has been, or even still is, biased and based on stereotypes of older
people. The aim of this project is to describe and give some understanding of the cultural representations of older drivers
and discourses of older drivers. The project will use a historical perspective to try to trace the roots of the representations
and discourses of older drivers. Furthermore, other alternative discourses than traffic safety and mobility will be searched
for in order to nuance the problem orientated view of older drivers. Satu Heikkinen is the main responsible for this project.