Negotiations of vulnerability in aging with vision impairment

Elsevier, Journal of Aging Studies, Volume 61, June 2022
Siren A., Rogeskov M., Amilon A.

Longevity entails a higher prevalence of chronic impairments that often come with aging, such as age-related vision loss (ARLV). Dependence and increasing vulnerabilities contrast sharply with contemporary reductionist models of positive aging, and gradually worsening eyesight exposes older adults with ARLV to situations where idealized models of late life do not fit them. In analyzing semi-structured interviews conducted in Denmark with 40 older adults, aged 55–70 years, with vision loss, this study examines how people in late midlife and early late life negotiate their vulnerability, dependence, and need for help across different contexts. The findings illustrate how these lived experiences situate people with ARVL outside the idealized late life and how they negotiate their need for help in both their work life and private life. The findings also show how people with age-related vision loss perform a balancing act between the lived vulnerability and the prescribed role of vulnerability arising from social discourses. Some contexts allow people with ARVL to negotiate and re-negotiate their vulnerability, while others, such as work-life contexts, often offer less room for negotiating vulnerability and need for help. The study makes it clear that, given the cultural emphasis on extended work lives, the ways in which work cultures can adapt to age diversity and age-related disabilities must receive more attention.