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Reflections on being a recipient of care: vexing the concept of vulnerability

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Focusing on the experiences of older people, I argue that geographers could contribute to understanding what it means to receive care. I explore some geographical literature that does focus on older care recipients, which emphasises both the experiences of changing care provision in different spatial contexts and affectual aspects of care relationships. Emphasising older people's perspectives and experiences of being a care recipient may illuminate new understandings of care. For example, there may be much to be understood about concepts such as vulnerability from older care recipients. Vulnerability is often seen as fragility or weakness, but it may also be conceptualised as openness, susceptibility, and receptiveness. Ideas about vulnerability as inherent to the self and as formative might be usefully applied to the experiences of older care recipients. To experience and acknowledge one's vulnerability may be a process of renegotiation of one's sense of embodied self and relationships to people and places. More work is needed on what it means to experience vulnerability, and on the meaning of being a recipient of care.
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Keywords: care; care recipients; cuidado; espacialidad del cuidado; gente mayor; older people; personnes âgées; recipientes de cuidado; récipients du soin; soin; spatialisation du soin; spatiality of care; vulnerabilidad; vulnerability; vulnérabilité

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Social and Community Health, School of Population Health, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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