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Social Sciences > Gerontology

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Aging Across the United States Cover

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Aging Across the United States

Matching Needs to States' Differing Opportunities and Services

Charles Lockhart and Jean Giles-Sims

Aging and the Indian Diaspora Cover

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Aging and the Indian Diaspora

Cosmopolitan Families in India and Abroad

Sarah Lamb

The proliferation of old age homes and increasing numbers of elderly living alone are startling new phenomena in India. These trends are related to extensive overseas migration and the transnational dispersal of families. In this moving and insightful account, Sarah Lamb shows that older persons are innovative agents in the processes of social-cultural change. Lamb's study probes debates and cultural assumptions in both India and the United States regarding how best to age; the proper social-moral relationship among individuals, genders, families, the market, and the state; and ways of finding meaning in the human life course.

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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement

Vol. 23 (2004) through current issue

The Canadian Journal on Aging is a refereed, quarterly publication of the Canadian Association on Gerontology. It publishes manuscripts on aging concerned with biology, educational gerontology, health sciences, psychology, social sciences, and social policy and practice.

La Revue canadienne du vieillissement, revue trimestrielle dotée d’un comité de lecture; est l’organe de l’Association canadienne de gérontologie. La revue publie des articles sur le vieillissement dans les disciplines suivantes: biologie, gérontologie éducative, sciences de la santé, psychologie, sciences sociales et politiques et pratiques sociales. Les manuscrits sont acceptés ou refusés sur la recommandation des rédacteurs représentant chacune des cinq sections de l’ACG, et après consultation avec les membres du comité de lecture.

Growing Older in World Cities Cover

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Growing Older in World Cities

New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo

Edited by Victor G. Rodwin and Michael K. Gusmano

Population aging often provokes fears of impending social security deficits, uncontrollable medical expenditures, and transformations in living arrangements, but public policy could also stimulate social innovations. These issues are typically studied at the national level; yet they must be resolved where most people live—in diverse neighborhoods in cities. New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo are the four largest cities among the wealthiest, most developed nations of the world. The essays commissioned for this volume compare what it is like to grow older in these cities with respect to health care, quality of life, housing, and long-term care. The contributors look beyond aggregate national data to highlight the importance of how local authorities implement policies.

It Shouldn’t Be This Way Cover

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It Shouldn’t Be This Way

The Failure of Long-Term Care

Robert L. Kane, M.D. and Joan C. West

The failure of long-term care is the country’s best-kept embarrassing secret. Almost every adult in the United States will either enter a nursing home or have to deal with a parent or other relative who does. Studies show that 40 percent of all adults who live to age sixty-five will enter a nursing home before they die, while even more will use another form of long-term care. Part memoir, part practical guide, part prescription for change, It Shouldn’t Be This Way is a unique look at the problems of long-term care. Robert L. Kane, a highly experienced physician and gerontologist, and his sister, Joan C. West, tell the painful story of what happened to their mother after she suffered a debilitating stroke and spent the last years of her life in rehabilitation, assisted-living facilities, and finally a nursing home. Along the way, her adult children encountered some professionals who were kind and considerate but also many frustrations—inadequate care and the need to hire private duty aides, as well as poor communication and lack of coordination throughout the system. The situation, they found, proved far more difficult than it needed to be. As the authors recount their mother’s story, they impart various lessons they learned from each phase of the experience. They alert those who are confronting such situations for the first time about what they will likely face and how to approach the problems. Closing with a broader look at why long-term care is the way it is, they propose steps to make necessary reforms, including the development of national organizations to work for change. Their message to families, care professionals, and policy-makers could not be more urgent.

The Moon in the Water Cover

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The Moon in the Water

Reflections on an Aging Parent

Kathy J. Phillips

Named a Best Book of 2008 by Library Journal

In a series of moving vignettes, the author begins by describing a particular representation of Water-Moon Kuan Yin, a Buddhist teacher and goddess associated with compassion, who often sits on a precarious overhang or floats on a flimsy petal. Then Kuan Yin steps out of the frame to join the author in the mundane challenges of caring for her father-transferring his health insurance, struggling with a wheelchair van, managing adult diapers, or playing in the fictions of dementia. From perplexed to poignant to funny, the vignettes record the working-class English of a fading but still wise dad, and they find other human versions of Kuan Yin in a doctor who will still make house calls or kind strangers in the street.

The book includes ten illustrations: both classical representations of Kuan Yin and also the author's own drawings, which adapt Kuan Yin in an act of practical spirituality, reading art through life and life through art. Each vignette invites the harried caregiver to take a deep breath and meditate on the trials and joys of caring for an aging parent.

The New Neighborhood Senior Center Cover

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The New Neighborhood Senior Center

Redefining Social and Service Roles for the Baby Boom Generation

Joyce Weil

In 2011, seven thousand American “baby boomers” (those born between 1946 and 1964) turned sixty-five daily. As this largest U.S. generation ages, cities, municipalities, and governments at every level must grapple with the allocation of resources and funding for maintaining the quality of life, health, and standard of living for an aging population. 


In The New Neighborhood Senior Center, Joyce Weil uses in-depth ethnographic methods to examine a working-class senior center in Queens, New York. She explores the ways in which social structure directly affects the lives of older Americans and traces the role of political, social, and economic institutions and neighborhood processes in the decision to close such centers throughout the city of New York. 

Many policy makers and gerontologists advocate a concept of “aging in place,” whereby the communities in which these older residents live provide access to resources that foster and maintain their independence. But all “aging in place” is not equal and the success of such efforts depends heavily upon the social class and availability of resources in any given community. Senior centers, expanded in part by funding from federal programs in the 1970s, were designed as focal points in the provision of community-based services. However, for the first wave of “boomers,” the role of these centers has come to be questioned.  

Declining government support has led to the closings of many centers, even as the remaining centers are beginning to “rebrand” to attract the boomer generation. However, The New Neighborhood Senior Centerdemonstrates the need to balance what the boomers’ want from centers with the needs of frailer or more vulnerable elders who rely on the services of senior centers on a daily basis. Weil challenges readers to consider what changes in social policies are needed to support or supplement senior centers and the functions they serve. 

Old Age in a New Age Cover

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Old Age in a New Age

The Promise of Transformative Nursing Homes

Beth Baker

On investigative visits to nursing homes across the nation, Beth Baker has witnessed profound changes. Culture change leaders are tearing up everything -- the floor plans, the flow charts, the schedules, the lousy menus, the attitudes, the rules -- and starting from scratch. They are creating extraordinary places where people live in dignity and greet the day with contentment, assisted by employees who feel valued and appreciated. Perhaps most surprising, these homes prove that a high quality of life does not have to cost more. Some of the best homes in the nation serve primarily low-income people who are on Medicaid. In this new book, Baker tell the story of a better way to live in old age. Although each home is different, they share common values: respecting individual choices; empowering staff; fostering a strong community of elders, staff, family members, and volunteers; redesigning buildings from a hospital model to a home (where pets and children are part of everyday life); and honoring people when they die. Her visits to more than two dozen facilities include those associatd with the Eden Alternative, Green House, Kendal, and the Pioneer Network. Whether these transformational homes become the norm or the domain of a lucky few is the question that faces the next generation of elders, the baby boomers.

Reinventing Care Cover

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Reinventing Care

Assisted Living in New York City

David Barton Smith

The recent growth of "assisted living" facilities and programs has shaken the foundations of the system of long-term care for the elderly in the United States. Fueled by consumer frustrations with the available options, notably nursing homes, the assisted living model emerged during the 1990s to promise shelter, health care, control of one's own life, less government involvement, and a "real home." But how well have the advocates and developers of assisted living delivered on such promises? And what are the model's implications for public policy and the future of caregiving? In Reinventing Care, David Barton Smith offers brilliant insights into those questions by examining the realities of assisted living in New York City. Encompassing the largest, most concentrated population of elderly in the United States, New York spends more per person caring for its seniors than any other urban center. Yet, while the size of the city's care system boggles the mind, it nevertheless contains the same elements that exist in other metropolitan areas and thus provides valuable lessons for the nation as a whole. Smith's study draws on twenty-five years of research, including hundreds of interviews and visits to representative facilities. He provides a succinct overview of how care is presently organized for New York's aging population and traces the history of the system up to the present. Among the key issues he addresses are the role of market forces and government regulation, the impact of class differences on access to quality care, and the ways in which perceptions of community affect the creation and management of assisted living programs. At the heart of the book are ten fascinating case studies, half of them focused on private-pay facilities and the other half on public-pay institutions. While finding that the actualities of assisted living rarely match the rhetoric of its proponents, Smith sees much to admire in its goals. He suggests tactics and strategies--such as promoting family- and community-based models of assisted living and adopting a standard of licensure for certain facilities--that could point the way to a better future. 

Uncanny Subjects Cover

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Uncanny Subjects

Aging in Contemporary Narrative

Edited by and Introduction by

In the United States anti-aging is a multibillion-dollar industry, and efforts to combat signs of aging have never been stronger, or more lucrative. Although there are many sociological studies of aging and culture, there are few studies that examine the ways cultural texts construct multiple narratives of aging that intersect and sometimes conflict with existing social theories of aging. In Uncanny Subjects: Aging in Contemporary Narrative, Amelia DeFalco contributes to the ongoing discourse of aging studies by incorporating methodologies and theories derived from the humanities in her investigation into contemporary representations of aging. The movement of aging is the movement of our lives, and this dynamism aligns aging with narrative: both are a function of time, of change, of one event happening after another. Subjects understand their lives through narrative trajectories—through stories—not necessarily as they are living moment to moment, but in reflection, reflection that becomes, many argue, more and more prevalent as one ages. As a result, narrative fiction provides compelling representations of the strange—indeed uncanny—familiarity of the aging self. In Uncanny Subjects, DeFalco explores a thematic similitude in a range of contemporary fiction and film by authors and directors such as John Banville, John Cassavetes, and Alice Munro. As their texts suggest, proceeding into old age involves a growing awareness of the otherness within, an awareness that reveals identity as multiple, shifting, and contradictory—in short, uncanny. Drawing together theories of the uncanny with research on aging and temporality, DeFalco argues that aging is a category of difference integral to a contemporary understanding of identity and alterity.

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