Daring to Grow Old: Lessons in Healthy Aging and Empowerment
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The capacity to achieve and retain control over one's own life—to make decisions about and exert power over one's situation—is strongly correlated with being healthy. For older persons, there is a real danger that professionals with good intentions will encroach on this control in the name of providing service. We examine the issues of power, control, decision making, and healthy aging from the perspective of educating health care providers. Particular attention is paid to how health care providers see their role in defining older adults as being at risk when they refuse service or take risks that providers define as unacceptable. We raise this issue of appropriate professional control and cite the literature on successful coping to argue for policies and practices that enhance personal autonomy and interdependence as effective vehicles for healthy aging. Lessons from primary health care are applied to healthy aging even in the face of diminished capacities.
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