Health & Human Services

Michigan Academician, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

Health & Human Services


Exploring Patterns of Routine in Older African-American Women. Kiersten Sweeney and Jill Wall, Eastern Michigan University, Department of Associated Health Professions, Ypsilanti, MI 48197; 734/827-2171

In 1998, Ludwig theorized that as women age they "unpackage" or decrease their life routines, embracing spontaneity and flexibility. The role of routines and the organization of time use is a reoccurring theme in occupational therapy literature, especially its inherent value in promoting well-being. Though Ludwig (1998) does not discredit these well established theories, her findings on the routines of older women challenge the belief that time occupied with routines promotes well-being. One perspective on researching those who are older is to look at their life narrative. A life narrative allows one to make sense of current occupations and the meanings behind them. Research on older adults has been disproportionately focused on affluent Caucasians, neglecting other cultural groups such as older African-American women. To further explore the nature of routine in the lives of older women, this study will use grounded theory to extract in-depth data from life narratives. This study replicates the research desig n by Ludwig (1988), in order to look at the phenomenon of routine, its meaning, and patterns in the lives of aging African-American women living in Michigan. This replication study will allow fir the refinement of theory established by Ludwig (1998) or discovery of new theory. Although the intention of this study is not to validate existing theory, refinement of a theory may add to the authenticity of what others have discovered.

Healing the Fragmented Self. Zahra Meghani, Michigan State University, Department of Philosophy, East Lansing, MI 48824; meghaniz@pilot.msu.edu

Often in the clinical setting, individuals with illnesses or disabilities requiring long-term medical attention (for instance cancer or amputation) are treated by the medical establishment as if they are no more than "sites" of illnesses or disabilities. The fact that the medical establishment does not recognize these individuals as cognitive authorities in their own right--on the basis of their lived experience of their bodies, their life experiences, and knowledge of their values and beliefs--damages their self-concept. In this paper, as a bioethicist, I argue that patient support groups could function as sites where patients and health-care professionals could work together to heal the patients' damaged self-concept, restoring their identity as cognitive authorities in their own right.

The Role of Grandmothers in the Survival of Children with Kwashiorkor in Ghana. Brenda F. McGadney-Douglass, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202; Richard L. Douglass, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI; Nana Apt, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana; and Edward Garrison, Dine College, Shiprock, NM

The health care role of elderly women is traditional in Ghana. This role has accorded them the status of experts in social and medical problems. Grandmothers are actively involved in the caring and nurturing of their grandchildren, including the provision of food and health care. The purpose of this discussion is to present descriptive and graphic findings about the role of Ghanaian grandmothers in the survival of grandchildren diagnosed with Kwashiorkor (severe protein malnutrition). This analysis, based on data from a 1999 field study of surviving adolescents, found that grandmothers played a major role in the children's survival. There is little understanding of cultural and social factors that helped these children to live when most others died. The relationship of these findings to models of health behavior will be explored, with particular reference to compliance with difficult medical regimens. The roles of these grandmothers provide a model for intergenerational health care and familial health behavio r compliance in high stress, impoverished conditions. …

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