Hit by a Stroke: An Autoethnographic Analysis of Intergenerational Care Across Geographical Distances

  • Marit AureEmail author
Part of the International Perspectives on Aging book series (Int. Perspect. Aging, volume 22)


Increased geographical mobility, improved medical treatment, and prolonged life expectancy have changed the way of life for older persons and their next of kin. This chapter discusses intergenerational care, mainly from the next of kin’s point of view, when an older family member and the next of kin live far from each other. The study is based on my—the author’s—autoethnographic account of the experience after my father suffered a stroke a few years ago. Inspired by Ellis et al. (2011, p. 392), who stated that autoethnography may ‘analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience’, I use my father’s and my own experiences to analyse how geographical distance and serious illness impact intergenerational care and kinship. While I argue that intergenerational care across geographical distance creates certain vulnerabilities, this specific situation also enables and enacts kinship relations. The study focused on practical support, emotional relations, and communication technologies, and their limitations when illness hits and life changes. It also adds to our understanding of aging, illness, and care across vast geographical distances. I claim that the autoethnographic approach accommodates the subjectivity, emotions and first-hand experiences between the older person and the next of kin. This geography of intergenerational care provides new knowledge about an experience, influencing the later years, for an increasing number of individuals and service-providing municipalities, especially in regions marked by outmigration and high youth mobility.


Autoethnography Stroke Geographical distance Intergenerational care Next of kin Mobility Men Lonely Digital divide Face-to- face Health 



Thanks to Dr Sharon Rosemand, Dr. Adam Perry and Kathy Fitzpatrick for their comments on an early draft and thanks for comments from the editors.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway

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