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Who are you calling old? Evolving thinking challenges policy planning

24 Apr 2014

How do you plan programs and services for old people when ‘old’ is an evolving concept?

Amanda Grenier, who holds the Gilbrea Chair in Aging and Mental Health at McMaster, notes that the structures and frameworks around which society organizes and responds to older people are increasingly blurred.

Although age and stage-based assumptions and practices are everywhere — from our thinking about late life, to policies and organizational practices — these are now considered to be less relevant to contemporary experiences of aging and late life. Chronological age, for example, is no longer considered to mark ‘aging’, but meanwhile many of the socio-cultural notions and eligibility requirements for services continue to be based on age.

While some of these structural markers are in a state of transition, such as retirement age, Grenier says current thinking on age and the life course raise serious questions about how to best plan for aging societies, such as: Without age, how do we respond to older people’s needs? What other options are available? What are the implications of drawing on alternate frameworks?

Grenier will discuss some of the key issues underlying planning efforts in policy and practice for older people at a CHEPA seminar on Wednesday April 30, in CRL B119, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. All are welcome. The seminar will be available remotely for those who are unable to attend.

Grenier is an Associate Professor in McMaster’s Department of Health, Aging and Society. She holds the Gilbrea Chair in Aging and Mental Health, and is Director of the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging at McMaster. She has a MSW and a PhD from McGill University and did a post-doctoral fellowship at Keele University, UK. Her research explores the social constructs of aging and challenges assumptions that are taken for granted when it comes to late life. Her funded research has focused on homecare, frailty, transitions, and older homelessness.

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