Survivors• Survivors interest us all.• They tell us the possibilities for our own survival.• We are fascinated by the stories of people who survive against the odds in difficult or extreme circumstances.
Isa • It in my genes • My father was 102 • I worked hard • A glass of wineBelfast Telegraph Saturday 20 January 2010
Bridging Genes and GerontologySeeing the world with a different lens
Background hypotheses• Life stories may help us understand something of the personhood of the 90 year old• What makes them a survivor?• What value system have they adopted?• How do they see their past, their future, their peers?• What are the common strands of personality or memory and coping skills with their siblings, if any?
Visual Images• We all have a visual image and form which is part of the story which we tell• Both are part of our personhood and are interdependent• Combining both visual and verbal stories will enhance the richness of the life story
GeHA Recruitment• Italy 5 pairs• Poland 5 pairs• Finland 4 pairs and 1 trio• Northern Ireland 10 pairs and 3 trio• Greece• France• Belgium• Germany• Ukraine• Denmark
Narrative• ‘Tell me your life story ‘• Research teams already knew sibling pairs or trios• Already had established a rapport with sibling pairs and families• Sibling pairs or trios who consented loved giving their stories• Written consent for recording and photographs
Structured Questions• What age do you feel?• What do you think makes you a survivor?• How makes you happy in your life?• How do you view the future?
What makes you a Survivor? N IrelandKathleen 92 ‘good health and my daughter living with me’Kelvin 93 ‘just my genes; my cousin was 99, my aunt in her 90s’Sarah 94‘ keeping in touch with news and everything’Grace 94 ‘my father lived to 94’Jane 95 ‘good food when we were young’Pauline 95 ‘its my Guardian Angel; she looks after my mishaps’Mary 99 ‘ hard work, it was hard work’Ellen 96 ‘ if you work hard you just survive’Sarah 94 ‘ we hadn’t very much, but our parents were good’Lilian 100 ‘I just worked on, I didn’t think of myself’Dorothy 93 ‘It must be my genes; my mother was 90, my aunt 95 and another one 94 on father’s side’Thomas 94 ‘ My father lived to 98; good care and attention’Norman 96 ‘Hard work that’s the secret’
What makes you a Survivor? PolandPelagia 93 ‘I worked hard, rather hard; I did not smoke’Jadwiga 94 ‘my grandmother lived long; I like to do crosswords’Koldra 93 ‘hard-bitten in work; fed healthy food in the forest’Marcjanna 94 ‘I tell the priest I drink vodka every day; but it isn’t true!’Janina 96 ‘joyful; they say I look young’Fausta 99 ‘don’t know’Stranilawa 92 ‘I enjoyed a bit of vodka to help me’Bradnaska 90 ‘ I have always worked; I have been working’
What makes you a Survivor? ItalyAntonietta93 ‘they gave us cod liver oil to drink, till we were 15 or 16’Assunta 100 ‘working so hard, heavy jobs’Augusta 95 ‘Health, a quiet life;I don’t feel melancholy’Giula 94 ‘working hard, working a lot’Germana 96 ‘working hard, I had 4 men to look after!’Fausta 99 ‘don’t know’Virginia 97 ‘I have been happy, our mother loved us’Adelma 90 ‘ I have always been healthy; I have been working’Dante 96 ‘I feel young, I don’t have ill health’Giovanna 96 ‘I have always lived day by day; I don’t know’
What makes you a Survivor? FinlandMaila 93 ‘hard to say-well genes’Meeri 98 ‘my father was 91; I have lived to 98’Hilkka 95 ‘it’s how it plays out and luck’Pulmu 93 ‘ Heavenly care and strength for each day dawning’Maija ‘You settle for what comes along’Matti 94 ‘a joyful character, that doesn’t worry unnecessarily’Anna 90 ‘I was only ill last summer for the first time’Laura 91 ‘it might be my fighting spirit’Sylvie90 ‘it’s no good taking the gloomy view’Karl 95 ‘ the last package from my mother saved my life’Eva 92 ‘this is my country now, I can speak Finnish’
Genes Physical Activity Good Health Social Connections Eating well 90 year old Survivor Don’t Worry Alcohol ??? Luck Mental Activity Smoking
Summary-Maintain mental and physical health-Hard work and determination-Eat properly-Good sense of Humour-Good family and social support-Choose long-living parents!
SummaryIs this what we see in our sibling pairswho start with a good gene capital, butthen build upon this with a common,perhaps good family, life experience andthis facilitates their ‘ageing-well profile’?
SummaryThroughout the interviews, across all thecountries, we seem to seea sense of positivityoptimisma self deprecating sense of humouradaptabilitya feisty independenceemerging as the phenotype for thesuccessful ageing personality.