Possibilities of Active Ageing in the Fourth Age

By: Marcela Petrova Kafkova  

Active ageing in its original definition is closely connected with quality of life and its maintenance in spite of age and health limitations. In its real applications, the active ageing is more identified with the preservation of economic activity and enjoyment of leisure time. This perspective makes people in the fourth age, i.e. with various extent of disability, invisible. The othering is strengthened by the fact, that the emphasis on possibilities of the young old postponed all characteristics traditionally connected with old age into the fourth age. The definition of the fourth age in terms of decline and dependency has strengthened the distinction between “the active” and “the others”. Based on the repeated interviews with ten fourth agers and their carers and four weeks of ethnographic observation in the households of disabled older adults, the study focuses on the ways people in the fourth age fulfilled the active ageing. Health difficulties make typical ways of active ageing impossible, yet fourth agers are not only passive recipients of care. Active ageing in the fourth age can be seen in pro-active attitudes, the acceptance of incoming imitations, and the establishment of successful compensatory strategies. Despite changes in activities and the fact that most time is spent at home or nearby, a proportion of fourth agers preserve a strong degree of agency. The negotiating of agency in the context of heterogeneity of the fourth age is presented.

Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Marcela Petrova Kafkova

Researcher, Office for Population Studies , Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Czech Republic