So what do we mean by eldercare? There is no consensus on what it is to be ‘old’, as it varies from society to society and culture to culture. When it comes to caring for older people, then, it helps to think in terms of vulnerability in old age, rather than age itself, as it is obviously not the case that all older people need help. Defining the term ‘care’ is also far from easy – do we take care to mean protecting someone from risk, or as helping them to live with risk? Who provides care? Is there a consensus on who should provide care? These questions are the subject of debate in a number of fields, but what must not be forgotten is that, when we are talking about elders, we are talking about people and, when we are talking about eldercare, we are talking about need to help those people live the lives they want to live, rather than what ageist assumptions present as the lives they should be living.
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