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Be Sure to Check out these Research Articles in the Next Issue of Anthropology & Aging 41(1), Feb/March 2020

 

Debating “Good” Care: The Challenges of Dementia Care in Shanghai, China

Yan Zhang

The increasing number of dementia sufferers in China has transformed dementia care from a private issue to a public concern. Nationwide dementia-friendly campaigns have intensified debates about what constitutes “good” care. In response to these campaigns, the Shanghai government proposes a systematic care model, which stresses the need for dementia-care units and professionalization. Non-state actors, however, focus on the relational care model, which integrates western humanitarian ethics with Confucian values. This article employs cultural and structural frameworks to examine why and how a specific form of “good” care is constructed in China. The debates about the establishment of dementia-care units and the professionalization of eldercare enable us to understand how politics shape certain forms of care.

Dancing while Aging: A Study on Benefits of Ballet for Older Women

Rachyl Pines, University of California Santa Barbara

Howard Giles, University of California Santa Barbara

As people age, experiences of depression, loneliness and loss of physical capabilities can emerge. As with previous work on the benefits of music as an intervention for social belonging and valued social identity, dance may increase similar feelings. Although theoretical chapters have been written on dance as it relates to social identity, belonging, and health, little empirical work has been conducted on the benefits of ballet as a recreational activity for older adults. The study reported here is framed by the “communication ecology model of successful aging,” and modestly embellishes this framework based on this study’s findings. Using interviews from 24 American female recreational ballet dancers ranging in age from 23-87 in a small West Coast town, this study investigates, for the first time, how ballet is incorporated into their self-concept and physical, mental, and social experiences of aging. Findings indicate that participating regularly in ballet is a core aspect of most women’s self-concept and means of self-expression. All women discussed how ballet has improved their physical and mental wellness, helping them have a more positive experience of age-related changes. Results showed that most women regard ballet as a very social activity, such that it helps them to feel a sense of community or even kin-like relationships with the other people regularly in class. All women interviewed mentioned that ballet is so integrated into who they are that it is something they hope to do for as long as possible.

Caring through Sound and Silence: Technology and the Sound of Everyday Life in Homes for the Elderly

Carla Greubel, Maastricht University

Literature on sounds inside institutions has shown that sounds are indispensable to the working of hospitals, schools, prisons, and other institutional environments. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in three eldercare homes in Germany this article suggests that the more permanent care context of institutional homes for the elderly compared to a hospital setting is decisive for people’s interpretation of and engagement with sounds. This is true at multiple levels, such as “monitory listening,” the use of “music as a technology of self,” or sounds as a tool of care. In fact, in this long-term care context even silences prompt action. Based on their experience with individual residents, for example, caregivers can direct their monitory listening not only to existing sounds, but also to the silence of expected but absent sounds. Throughout the article, additional consideration is given to the role of the technologies that produce the sounds, showing how in their design and functioning they shape, complement or prevent people’s attention to sound and silence. Finally, I propose that research is needed that goes beyond an understanding of silence as a healing environment for the vulnerable and sick and instead attends to the complexity of this acoustic event within the context of eldercare homes.

 
Posted: 2020-01-23
 

Featured in Anthropology & Aging 41(1): The 2018 Margaret Clark Award Winners

 

The 2018 Margaret Clark Award Winners for best graduate student paper, Rose Keimig, and best undergraduate student paper, Olivia Silva (co-authored with M. Ariel Cascio and Eric Racine) will have their articles appear in Anthropology & Aging 41(1), the next issue of the journal to be published in Feb/March 2020.

Chronic Living and Delayed Death in Chinese Eldercare Institutions

Rose Kay Keimig

In urban China, demographic shifts, medical interventions, and technological advancements are reshaping how, when, and where elders live and die. Within institutions, end-of-life interventions may stave off death, but have little to offer those who are saved but not cured.  Meanwhile, these end-of-life encounters are unfolding within a larger caregiving landscape that is itself in transition. Increased migration, urbanization, women’s employment rates, and access to medical services are radically altering caregiving arrangements. In particular, sharp declines in fertility have sapped family-based caregiving resources and put enormous pressure on medical institutions. Although China is just beginning to feel the effects of rapid population aging, demand for end-of-life institutional care has already outstripped supply. The few palliative care wards that exist routinely turn away patients, admitting only those whose end is predictably soon. In the process, dying becomes a diagnosis, complicated by insurance regulations, local bioethics, and limited resources. For those cut off from both curative and palliative care, life itself turns pathological, and they find themselves suspended in a state of what I call “chronic living.”


Person-Oriented Research Ethics and Dementia: The Lack of Consensus

Olivia Silva, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, McGill University

M. Ariel Cascio, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, McGill University

Eric Racine, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, McGill University, Université de Montréal

Research ethics extends beyond obtaining initial approval from research ethics boards. The previously established person-oriented research ethics framework provides guidelines for understanding ongoing ethics throughout the tasks of a research project, in a variety of research contexts. It focuses primarily on the relational and experiential aspects of research ethics, organized around five guideposts: (1) focus on researcher-participant relationships; (2) respect for holistic personhood; (3) acknowledgment of lived world; (4) individualization; and (5) empowerment in decision-making. Given the widespread impact of dementia and the ethical challenges dementia research presents, conducting meaningful, ethical research is of high importance. This review explores this person-oriented framework in the context of dementia by examining existing literature on ethics practices in dementia research. We use a critical interpretive literature review to examine publications from 2013 to 2017 for content related to the five guideposts of person-oriented research ethics. While there is much literature addressing the relational and experiential aspects of research ethics, there is a lack of unanimous conclusions and concrete suggestions for implementation. We compiled practical recommendations from the literature, highlighting tensions and suggesting furthering evidence-based ethics research fieldwork to construct an accessible, easy-to-use set of guidelines for researchers that will assist in putting person-oriented research ethics into practice in dementia research.

 

 
Posted: 2020-01-23