Embodying Transition in Later Life: “Having a Fall” as an Uncertain Status Passage for Elderly Women in Southeast London

Abstract

In their (2014 report, the charity AgeUK states that one-third of older people (over 3 million) fall each year. This article takes a focused look at falling by describing four women’s accounts of “having a fall” in Walworth, southeast London, which sheds light on the experience of personal and corporeal change in later life. While some experiential studies of falling have made reference to a loss of embodied control and changes in identity, these aspects have not been explored in sufficient depth. Attending closely to the embodied experience of falling for older women in the context of everyday activity reveals the uncertainty surrounding what it actually signifies and the powerful effect this uncertainty has on their everyday lives and sense of self. This in-depth phenomenological account speaks to important gaps in the literature on falls, given the current research emphasis on the management of falls risk.

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