In the twenty-first century, the way in which we identify ourselves is a matter of much discussion; in politics, in the world of business, in religion, the armed services, and the community at large. Many discussions of late are actually around the concept of “self-identification” as a basic human right. Let’s explore, for just a few moments, the importance of identity to fragile older adults experiencing often very dramatic changes in their lives.
Generally, “work life” as we define it is finished. Other changes often experienced by frail older adults include social life and interaction with lifelong friends, role in the family, pursuit of personal interests, and general feelings of health and stamina. Is it any wonder that an individual experiencing life in this way may have some difficulty figuring out just who they are? The insidious identity thieves: failing health and a youth oriented culture, have conspired to strip some the self-concept and self-identification from our frail older citizens.
When given the opportunity and some support, frail older adults have great capacity for adaptation to many of the changes in their lives; creating meaningful roles, which, while not being identical to their former selves, can bear enough resemblance that they facilitate self-identification, a very important component of the quality of life experience for our frail older citizens.