Old age images in periodicals of Lithuania: between esteem and fear

Sarmitė Mikulionienė, Dalia Petkevičienė

Abstract


With the increasing number of elderly people in the society of Lithuania, the information of the old age and people who experience it is proliferating spontaneously. Yet seemingly we are still not satisfied with what we know about this stage of life. Following the clause No. 173.3.3 (2004) of the National Strategy for Overcoming Consequences of Population Ageing, the formation of the positive image for elderly people in Lithuania has been acknowledged the state level project.
The goal of this article is to disclose the predominant lexicon for describing the image of old age and elderly people in the most popular Lithuanian periodical press. To reach this goal, the method of document analysis has been chosen, which allows us to objectively evaluate the character and incidence of the old age images in periodicals of the determinate period of time.
The results of the quantitative analysis of information found in the most popular periodicals (January–June, 2005) allow us to make the following conclusions:
• The most widely spread descriptions of elderly people in periodicals are: pensioners (45 proc.) (First and foremost the elderly are seen as the retirement benefit recipients), old people (11 proc.), and grandparents (11 proc.). Meanwhile, the use of such neutral concepts as elderly people or older generation is notably rare (only 1.3 proc. of the cases).
• The representation of images of old age and elderly people in periodicals is fairly multiple, however, it is spontaneous and unbalanced. When negative aspect images overshadow the positive ones, the image of elderly people, which is thus being created, could be described as forbidding and intimidating, rather than an attractive one.
The semantic analysis of the related articles in the most popular Lithuanian periodicals allows us to list (in the descending order of incidence) the following images of elderly people: recipients of the retirement and social support benefits; victims that are powerless physically and legally; old age as the time of losses; repulsive persons; active persons; respect objects on particular occasions; the image of natural and prudent ageing; old people as being a „leisure class„ (in terminology of T.Veblen).
This article is helpful for students of social sciences and social workers, as well as for the wider circle of readers: those, who already identify themselves as belonging to the older generation, and those, who will belong to it in the future, but whose everyday activities now are concerned with the elderly people.

Keywords


elderly people images; old age images; periodicals

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789