Empowering Older People: An International Approach

Empowering Older People: An International Approach

Empowering Older People: An International Approach

Empowering Older People: An International Approach

Synopsis

Empowerment refers to the ability to make informed choices, exercise influence, make continuing contributions to society, and take advantage of services. These privileges are taken for granted by most working-age adults, but often are not available to older persons for a variety of reasons, including poverty, poor health, low educational levels, lack of transportation and access to services, negative stereotypes about aging, and overt or subtle age discrimination. Yet empowerment is vital to the quality of life of older persons and the health of society on the whole if seniors are engaged and involved members of it. This book takes an international approach by presenting the work of 17 experts in aging. Countries represented by the contributors include Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ireland, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. While many works address the issue of empowerment, the aging perspective is relatively rare and the international perspective entirely lacking until now.

Excerpt

Charlotte Nusberg

Older people are one of the last groups with which the notion of empowerment has become associated. Yet the privileges it represents--the ability to make informed choices, exercise influence, continue to make contributions in a variety of settings, and take advantage of services--are critically important to the well-being of the elders. These are choices often taken for granted by working-age adults, but they have eluded older persons for a variety of reasons, including poverty, poor health, low educational levels, lack of transportation and access to services, negative stereotypes about aging, and overt and subtle age discrimination. As the world's population lives longer and more independent lives, it is clear that having choices and maintaining control over personal decisions has taken on new meaning and importance for older persons everywhere.

Empowering Older People: An International Perspective represents the first examination of the possibilities and limitations of empowerment as it applies to older people around the world. What does empowerment mean in a developed country? in a developing country? How does it play out across cultures, political boundaries, and widely disparate economic scenarios? How is it arrived at by older individuals and by the organizations that represent them?

The contributions in this volume do not offer definitive answers to these questions. They can and do, however, present the complexities of the debate and demonstrate the importance of empowerment to the lives of older people. Part I examines the concept of empowerment and its applicability to older persons. Part II demonstrates the experience of organizations representing elders in becoming empowered. Part iii looks at various paths to personal empowerment on the part of older individuals. Part iv explores the relationship of empowerment to social and economic development, and Part V explores the use of research as a tool of empowerment. Perspectives are presented from Canada, Chile, Denmark, the . . .

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