My Moments at TrentAging 2019

Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Blessing Ugochi Ojembe received a Gilbrea Travel Award to facilitate her travel to the TrentAging 2019 conference.

Written by: Blessing Ugochi Ojembe

TrentAging 2019 was jointly organized by the North American and European Networks in Aging studies and hosted by the Trent Centre for Aging and Society, Trent University Peterborough, ON Canada. I was privileged to present my poster on “Describing reasons for Loneliness among older people in Nigeria” and to exchange ideas with other researchers on the issue of aging and loneliness.  The conference included rich content focused on critical aging and plenary speakers which included scholars such as: Stephen Katz, Martha Holstein, Kathleen Woodward and Josephine Dolan. The sessions were led by well-known scholars in the field of critical gerontology including: Chris Gilleard, Paul Higgs, Amanda Grenier, Margaret Gullette, Chris Philipson, Wendy Martins, Julia Twigg and Carrol Estes, to mention a few. The desire to learn from these scholars and to better understand the current tensions and discourses around critical gerontology was what captured my interest to attend the conference. It was a great opportunity for me to meet and network with other students who are also engaged in aging research from across the globe – The US, the UK, the Netherlands, Austria, Australia, Germany, and Canada for example.

One of the sessions I attended was the session led by Dr. Andrew King, from the University of Surrey, United Kingdom titled “No (safe) Place Like Home? Reaction and Resistance in the Homespaces of Older LGBTQ+ People in the UK”. His talk posited that housing provision for older adults, especially LGBTQ+, requires an outlook that considers diversities. It is important to note that the consideration for diversity and inclusion across all service provision for all groups of older adults is a factor that cannot be underemphasized because older adults are heterogeneous.

Another theme that came up during one of the sessions led by Professor Amanda Grenier was “Precarity”. It was interesting to watch the discourse and tensions around this concept. Some of the concepts that were associated with the concept of precarity include disadvantage, inequalities, deprivation, and life course or cumulative disadvantage. Nevertheless, while we admit the similarity of these words, one significant point from the session was the fact that precarity in later life is exacerbated by cumulative disadvantage (housing, employment, health, community, security, etc.).

Another tension that came up during one of the panel sessions on “The Status of Ageism” was the discourse on the use of ageism as an ideology versus the use of the social imaginary of the fourth age as suggested by Paul Higgs and Chris Gilleard. Gilleard and Higgs presented on “The overextended conceptual Tool: Ageism as Ideology”, they criticized the use and misinterpretation of ageism as an ideology and thus, suggested replacing it with social imaginary of the fourth age which they believed presents a better prospect for aging research and methodology purposes. On the contrary, Margaret Gullette presenting on “The Belatedness of Ageism in Contemporary Discourse” believed that ageism is undermining aging, and that it is high time gerontology and aging researchers took back aging from ageism.

My gratitude goes to the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging and the Department of Health, Aging and Society for their support which enabled me to attend this conference and I look forward to the next meeting of these aging research networks.