chapter  1
6 Pages

A Definition of the Elderly Self

Descriptions of the elderly commonly deal with them as a group of people who are affected by their altered physiology; their lack of power in social, economic, and professional spheres; and their closeness to death. Those who are viewed as elderly would perhaps add to the definition that older people are among those abhorred in almost all human cultures and in all times. Other groups who are similarly regarded are women, people who are ill or are congenitally defective, and various racial and ethnic groups (Butler, 1970; Erikson, 1982; Gutman, 1987; De Beauvoir, 1972). The abhorrence and ostracism turn on either such groups' behavioral or physiognomic differences from the main stream, their real or putative power, or their afflictions (Sophocles, 1942).