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13.11.2014 | Original Article | Ausgabe 1/2017

Health Care Analysis 1/2017

Ageism and Autonomy in Health Care: Explorations Through a Relational Lens

Health Care Analysis > Ausgabe 1/2017
Laura Pritchard-Jones


Ageism within the context of care has attracted increasing attention in recent years. Similarly, autonomy has developed into a prominent concept within health care law and ethics. This paper explores the way that ageism, understood as a set of negative attitudes about old age or older people, may impact on an older person’s ability to make maximally autonomous decisions within health care. In particular, by appealing to feminist constructions of autonomy as relational, I will argue that the key to establishing this link is the concept of self-relations such as self-trust, self-worth and self-esteem. This paper aims to demonstrate how these may be impacted by the internalisation of negative attitudes associated with old age and care. In light of this, any legal or policy response must be sensitive to and flexible enough to deal with the way in which ageism impacts autonomy.

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