Towards a Medical Anthropology of Ageing
The proportion of people over 65 is substantially increasing and will continue to do so in the coming decades. Societies are concerned about the depletion of pension funds and austere fiscal plans that are unable to subsidize the basic care, protection and needs of their growing elderly populations. Gerontology is rapidly becoming a burgeoning research discipline that studies multiple aspects of human ageing, leading to top-down social policies that ineffectually address the significant needs of aged persons. Geriatric medicine has also expanded, attempting to medicalize the ageing process into a disease-free stage of “healthy ageing.” Ageing itself, this book argues, however, is not a disease per se, and should not be medicalized.
In an era of uncertain medical expectations and unfulfilled social care of the ageing, this book presents an anthropological view, that focuses on three essential and transcendental conditions of human life that become vulnerable with advancing age: namely, relating to others, being in the world, and leaving a mark or legacy in the world.
Miguel Kottow, MD, MA, is a practicing ophthalmologist in Santiago, Chile, and has devoted much of his time and academic career to bioethics and the medical humanities. He has published 12 books, including From Justice to Protection (2012), in addition to numerous papers and book chapters. As Full Professor at the Universidad de Chile, he has participated in numerous national, regional and international graduate and post-graduate teaching programs. His main areas of interest are the fundamentals of bioethics, public health bioethics, and the teaching of medical humanities.
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