Faces of Aging: The Lived Experiences of the Elderly in Japan

Faces of Aging: The Lived Experiences of the Elderly in Japan

Faces of Aging: The Lived Experiences of the Elderly in Japan

Faces of Aging: The Lived Experiences of the Elderly in Japan

Synopsis

The indisputable fact of Japan's rapidly aging population has been known for some time. But beyond statistics and implications for the future, we do not know much about the actual aging process. Senior citizens and their varied experiences have, for the most part, been obscured by stereotypes. This fascinating new collection of research on the elderly works to put a human face on aging by considering multiple dimensions of the aging experience in Japan.

Faces of Aging foregrounds a spectrum of elder-centered issues- social activity, caregiving, generational bias, suicide, sexuality, and communication with medical professionals, to name a few- from the perspective of those who are living them. The volume's diverse contributors represent the fields of sociology, anthropology, medicine, nursing, gerontology, psychology, film studies, gender studies, communication, and linguistics, offering a diverse selection of qualitative studies of aging to researchers across the social sciences.

Excerpt

Yoshiko Matsumoto

For meand for those of us who are older and hence “different”a shifting
self-image is based not only on the changed person I see in the mirror, but
also on the behavior of those around me. “Let me help you cross the street.”
“Why don’t you take my seat?” “Would you like to take a nap?” The
solicitude is always heartfelt, but it reflects a stereotype
.

We are characterized on the basis of a number of assumptions: we’re
fragile, our memory is spotty, our energy is low, we’re anxious about the next
DMV license exam, we fall more often. And to some extent, all of that is true
.

Herbert L. Abrams, “How It Feels to Get Old,”
Stanford Magazine July/August (2004, 53)

WE AGE AS LONG AS WE LIVE, so issues of aging should be everyone’s concern. But despite the large number and the longevity of older people in developed countries such as the United States and Japan, the elderly as individuals are in many ways still invisible. They tend to be perceived as recipients of health care, consumers of social security savings, and the passive targets of scientific research and public policy; their faces and voices seem hidden behind statistics of the elderly population at large. Except for the fortunate who in their early years had intimate contact with old people, younger people may find it difficult to understand or appreciate the experience of the elderly. Even those with such contact may not fully comprehend what it is like to be older since it is not yet their experience. The perceived distance of the lives and concerns of older people from those of younger generations seems also to affect scholarly research, and may . . .

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