Maintaining Personal Identity As We Age

Identity can be defined in a social or a personal context. Social identity considers how people see or define themselves in relation to a social group1. It can also be how others see us2. Personal identity is based on the unique attributes distinguishing individuals from others1. It can also be how we see ourselves2. Late-life identity is a tricky one because so many people feel disconnect between how they look and how they feel inside.

Remember the adage – ‘you are only as old as you feel’?! Whilst studies have explored age identities1,3, it is important to remember that our identities can be fostered, affirmed or undermined by what happens in our lives and around us.

A resource produced by the Victorian Government2 highlights this is the same for people living with dementia as “their sense of self is powerfully affected by how they experience their environment and by the attitudes of others towards them”.

Click here to access the Victorian Government Resource


1.    Rozario, P. A. and Derienzis, D. (2009). ‘So forget how old I am!’ Examining age identities in the face of chronic conditions. Sociology of Health & Illness, 31: 540-553. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9566.2008.01149.x


3.    Nikander, P. (2009). Doing change and continuity: Age identity and the micro–macro divide. Ageing & Society, 29: 863–881. doi:10.1017/S0144686X09008873

KnowledgeAmy Bosnar