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Saúde e Sociedade

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FERNANDES, Maria das Graças Melo  and  GARCIA, Loreley Gomes. The meaning of old age for elderly men and women. Saude soc. [online]. 2010, vol.19, n.4, pp.771-783. ISSN 0104-1290.

This qualitative study was carried out in the coexistence group Juventude Acumulada, in the popular neighborhood Cruz das Armas, city of João Pessoa (Northeastern Brazil). Eighteen elderly women and twelve elderly men freely accepted to participate in the research. Data collection was accomplished in the months of April and May 2008 through a recorded semi-structured interview. In the analysis of the empirical material, the discourse analysis approach proposed by Fiorin was used. Concerning the meanings attributed to old age, it was verified that many men feel young, "old only in age" or due to the social dereliction that may come with retirement. The others view old age as something negative for their lives, something that threatens their autonomy and independence. The majority of the women, in turn, express and live old age in an ambiguous way, that is, although they understand old age as something negative and present in their lives, this phase of their vital cycle represents, for many of them, an opportunity to enjoy their remaining years of life more freely.

Keywords : Aging; Old Age; Gender; Elderly.

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