Hidden hardship in Aotearoa: An explorative study of older adult hardship
Jex-Blake, R. B. (2021). Hidden hardship in Aotearoa: An explorative study of older adult hardship (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14281
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14281
Poverty remains one of the most urgent issues in modern times (Lister, 2004). One fifth of older New Zealanders report hardship (Ministry of Social Development 2018), yet little is known about the daily experience of living in hardship as an older adult New Zealander. Financial hardship in older adult populations is strongly associated with increased mental health concerns, limited social resources and deteriorating physical health. To exacerbate matters, New Zealand is an aging nation, a factor which leads to increased strain on services that are already under considerable pressure. The situation for this demographic can be compromised by limited savings, the need to care for grandchildren and escalating living costs, which means this demographic is more vulnerable. To examine older adult hardship in New Zealand, I undertook a qualitative study that involved in-depth interviews with four participants about the challenges of living in hardship as an older New Zealander. Specific challenges experienced by the participants in relationship to their hardship included self-perceived and externally perceived illegitimacy to receive help, and the requirement to portray themselves as valued members of society. Analysis revealed that the participants’ narratives reflected the challenge of interacting with the shame and stigma promoted by wider neoliberal social narratives about ageing and the poor. Agentive strategies actioned were tactics such as delegitimization of dependency, positive fatalism, humour, othering and withdrawal from society. These strategies result in the hiding and minimization of their experiences of hardship, which can perpetuate the issue of older adult hardship.
The University of Waikato
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