Ageing well? Older people’s health and well-being as portrayed in UK magazine advertisements

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Virpi Ylänne
Angie Williams
Paul Mark Wadleigh

Abstract

The media, including advertising, is an important source of information about health and ageing. Furthermore, advertising makes certain discourses, vocabularies and imagery available as resources for age and health identity formation for older adults. The aim of this study was to investigate qualitatively the prominent themes relating to health and ageing that emerged from a sub-corpus of 140 British magazine advertisements depicting older adults. We focus on how these depictions construct health identity in older age through their underlying discourses. The six main themes included solutions to health problems; maintenance or regaining of independence and quality of life; managing risks; staying younger, healthy and active; taking pride in appearance; and discourses of responsibility and choice. The most prominent underlying discourse was the possibility, necessity and desirability to take positive action to maintain health and well-being in older age. We relate these findings to current societal discourses of active ageing and anti-ageing.

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