A Feminist Analysis of the Abuse and Neglect of Elderly Women
There have been few feminist analyses of the abuse and neglect of elderly women per se. We think that most standard gerontological studies of the abuse and neglect of aging people have not disaggregated the group – elderly people – according to their differences in gender, race, ethnicity, social status, economic well-being, and so on. In contrast, feminist theory has certainly paid attention to gender differences, but many analyses have been surprisingly ageist. Feminists still focus on issues of concern to younger women, giving short shrift to, or simply ignoring, the issues of many older women: chronic diseases, depression, loneliness, and confrontation with their mortality. In this chapter, we point out some of the ways that physical abuse and neglect differ for elderly women. We also argue that feminists, indeed everyone, should be especially concerned about the issues of elderly women as a matter of social justice. Because women still have much heavier caregiving roles and responsibilities than men, they generally reach old age poorer, sicker, and more stretched than men. Thought and efforts must be expanded in order to achieve the continually elusive goal of gender equity.
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