Our ageing selves: reflections on growing older
There are a number of well-rehearsed social and demographic reasons why a consideration of women and ageing-with a focus on the attitudes of mid-life women-is warranted and timely at this point. Briefly, we ourselves, and the societies we live in, are clearly ageing. Later life is now dominated by women and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future (Sara Arber and Jay Ginn, 1991, 1995; Miriam Bernard and Kathy Meade, 1993a; Moyra Sidell 1995). Furthermore, many of the so-called ‘caring professions’ are mainly the preserve of women-and women who, in all likelihood, will increasingly be caring for older women. ‘Professional women carers’, who are themselves ageing, also form an integral part of what Caroll Estes (1979) has termed ‘the aging enterprise’. In other words, nurses, social workers and other caring professionals are part and parcel of the ‘industry’ which has grown up around ageing, and those of us who work in and alongside this ‘industry’ must recognise that we have professional and vested interests in it (Bernard, 1998).