Oral Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

 Being Older: A Question of Critical Dialogue with Humanism? (#8)

Jo Gibson 1
  1. University if Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Ageism refers to stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination directed towards people because of their age. Ageism is institutional, interpersonal, or self-directed. Institutional ageism refers to the laws, rules, social norms, policies, and practices that unfairly restrict opportunities and systematically disadvantage individuals because of their age. Healthcare rationing because of age is widespread (WHO, 2021; Hunter et al, 2022). Ageing has been given little attention in philosophy (Gilliard, 2022).

Existential philosophy offers insight into how later lives may be realized and equally how old age can be subsumed by inauthenticity, through complying with the other within, as much as by submitting to the othering of society and its institutions (Pickard, 2022; WHO, 2021). Old age’s otherness raises obstacles to the body through implication.

The human body is one thing we have in common, and its death is our only assurance. Yet the body holds ambiguous status. The body is both what we are and what belongs to us. In nursing, the body is both lived experience and an object of assessment. As an object of philosophical thought, frequently cited is a Cartesian reference to mind-body dualism (Mehta, 2011).

Older bodies in nursing are reduced to categories loaded with negative views and undesirable nursing tasks by using binary language, for example, heavy/light, continent/incontinent, confused/oriented (Hunter et al, 2022). Karen Barad and others have asked how our intra-action with other bodies (both human and nonhuman) produces subjectivities and performative enactments not previously thought (Barad, 2007; Jackson & Mazzei, 2013).

Is it time to engage in critical dialogue with humanism about ageing to “methodologically revitalize investigations of these concerns, revealing more complete accounts of how assemblages of bodies, technologies, things and spaces relate, attach, or come together to produce the phenomena we label or categorize as health, care or inequalities” (Aranda 2019, p.9)?