Wellbeing in Old Age from a Gender Perspective

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Rita BIANCHERI, Pisa University, Italy
Silvia CERVIA, Pisa University, Italy
Epidemiological data show an apparent paradox of increased longevity in women combined with a greater rate of morbility in their lifetimes. Scientific research in this area has focused on what has been defined as feminine “resilience”, the absence of risk and preventive lifestyles, which translate into increased longevity and a postponement of ageing, without considering the interaction between working conditions and home life (Hunt & Macintyre 2000; Fan & Frisbee 2009).

From this point of view, the increasing presence of women in the workplace, the raising of the retirement age, together with current social transformations and a drop in past forms of reciprocity and solidarity will affect welfare models, and lead to important consequences for the well-being of the elderly.

By adopting the life course approach to studying “health trajectories” in the ageing process, the research takes into account the paradigm of gender and the ensuing differences. These may be seen as crucial elements of those dynamics linking several multidimensional factors that play a relevant role in health outcomes. In our paper, we have considered gender role construction as having a double significance that could explain the ambivalence of the epidemiological data. By analysing the life story and medical history of certain witnesses – females and males over the age of 75 – the research results show a possible connection between the worst health outcomes (in terms of both disease and illness) and overburdening deriving from a “double presence”, and the positive effect on the “re-establishment” of identities (Beck 2008) in the continuity of care.