'Getting old is not for cowards': Comfortable, healthy ageing

Jan Reed, Glenda Cook, Susan Childs and Amanda Hall

An exploration of what constitutes ‘comfortable, healthy ageing’ This literature review explores different views on what constitutes ‘comfortable, healthy ageing’.

Discussion groups and interviews with older people revealed their definitions of ‘good health’.

The study includes a full account of these preliminary discussions. These concepts formed the search terms for the study. But the team faced difficulties using older people’s own terms as the basis for their literature search; this may be because much literature on older people is not based on older people’s own priorities, suggest the authors.

The study goes on to review available literature. It discusses the prevalent ‘medical model’, which sees ageing as a time of inevitable decline and deficit and defines ‘healthy ageing’ as avoiding or escaping this. It also reviews the ‘heroic model’, which promotes the idea of growing older as a positive experience. Both these views have their limitations. The authors suggest that a new concept of older age may be needed. They conclude by highlighting areas for further research and study.

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