Disability & Ageing: Ann Leahy

The Pulse

02-12-2023 • 28分

Dr Ann Leahy, a PhD graduate of Maynooth University Sociology Department, recently published her new book Disability & Ageing: Towards a Critical Perspective.

This book challenges assumptions about impairment in later life and the residual nature of the ‘fourth age’. It proposes that the experience of ‘disability’ in older age reaches beyond the bodily context and can involve not only a challenge to a sense of value and meaning in life, but also ongoing efforts in response.


  • Introduction (00:00)
  • Opening Remarks “Ageing Parents” (01:12)
  • Introducing Ann Leahy (02:27)
  • Linkages Between Disability & Ageing (03:01)
  • Importance of Self-Identifying as Disabled (04:24)
  • “Disability Identity in Older Age” Study (05:28)
  • Difficulties in Defining Disability (06:58)
  • Key Findings from Research Interviews (09:15)
  • Divisions Between “Old Age” and “Disability” Services (11:40)
  • Ageing Out of Public Services and Programs (13:17)
  • Problem of Medical Model of Disability Being Pervasive Amongst Older Adults (17:15)
  • Disability Stigma (19:22)
  • Younger Adults with Disabilities Living in Nursing Homes (21:40)
  • Alternatives to Nursing Homes & Institutionalization (25:22)
  • Show Close (27:25)

Guest Bio:

Ann Leahy joined the ERC Consolidator funded project, DANCING (Protecting the Right to Culture of Persons with Disabilities and Enhancing Cultural Diversity through European Union Law: Exploring New Paths), in September 2020. Her main focus is qualitative research on cultural participation by people with disabilities. She has an MA in Social Justice and Public Policy (first class honours) and a PhD in Sociology. Her PhD was an interdisciplinary qualitative study that examined the intersection between disability and ageing, engaging with literature across both areas.

Her academic awards include a John and Pat Hume Scholarship (2013) from Maynooth University and an Irish Research Council Employment-based PhD Scholarship (2014). In 2019 she was awarded a Government of Ireland, Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship to disseminate the findings of her PhD thesis.

Ann also has a background in law. Early in her career, she qualified as a Solicitor and worked for some years in commercial law with McCann FitzGerald, solicitors. She subsequently changed direction, working for nearly two decades in the NGO voluntary sector. She was Assistant CEO of Age & Opportunity for over a decade with responsibility for policy and public affairs, as well as for the organisation’s work on arts and culture.

In addition to disability and ageing, her areas of research include equality, poverty and healthcare, and she has completed a body of research and policy analysis on these issues for Social Justice Ireland. She has also extensive experience of public-policy processes across a variety of areas and has served on several policy and advocacy committees.


Follow Ann Leahy on X / Twitter:  @ALeahyResearch

About Ann’s Book

“Disability Identity in Older Age: Exploring Social Processes That Influence Disability Identification With Aging” from Disability Studies Quarterly

About The Pulse

On The Pulse, host Joeita Gupta brings us closer to issues impacting the disability community across Canada.

Joeita Gupta has nurtured a life-long dream to work in radio! She's blind, moved to Toronto in 2004 and got her start in radio at CKLN, 88.1 FM in Toronto. A former co-host of AMI-audio's Live from Studio 5, Joeita also works full-time at a nonprofit in Toronto, specializing in housing/tenant rights.

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