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The changing ‘old age’:: Constructions of old age and being elderly in research about intellectual disability
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9590-777X
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Previous research has shown that people with disabilities in many respects primarily are regarded and treated as persons with disabilities, there other categorization grounds, such as gender, is given subordinate importance alternatively is neglected. According to another central categorization ground, age, do several studies problematize the notion of ‘eternal children’ and barriers to achieve adult status for people with intellectual disabilities.


Less attention has been given to relations between constructions of old age and intellectual disabilities. The aim of this paper is to analyse and discuss how understandings of ageing and being old in relation to disability diverge slightly compared to how it is reflected in gerontological and sociological research about ageing and being old. The paper is based on a research overview that identified three tendencies. First, the concept of old age in disability research embraces significantly wider chronological age groups than those considered in ageing studies. Second, in studies of experiences of ageing among persons with intellectual disabilities tend consequences of the impairment to be put in forefront. This may obscure that people with intellectual disabilities partake in common idealisations of youthfulness, an idealisation that otherwise contains ambivalences towards old age. Third, research about both disability and ageing tend to use a late modern perspective of individualization as a way to illustrate new options and strategies, including resistance against stigmatisation. However, researches about being elderly as disabled rarely include such perspectives.


This paper illustrates that social constructions of disability and old age are tightly interwoven, and in a society where ability are highly regarded, they constitute negations of normatively defined ideals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-114470OAI: diva2:896027
Nordic Network on Disability Research, 13th Research Conference, Bergen, Norway, 6-8 May 2015
Available from: 2016-01-20 Created: 2016-01-20 Last updated: 2016-01-20

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Lövgren, Veronica
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