The aged patient in early modern England

Year of award: 2018


  • Amie Bolissian McRae

    University of Reading

Project summary

Contrary to common assumptions, 20% of the adult population was aged over 60 in early modern England. I will investigate the health experiences of this forgotten demographic to find out how doctors and lay people understood and treated the diseases and infirmities of older people and investigate the impact of these conditions on the lives of older people and their families in 1570 to 1730.

I will use sources such as diaries and doctors’ casebooks to challenge the view that medical providers were reluctant to treat the infirmities of older patients, and gain insights into the emotional experiences of older people with illness as well as their loved ones and carers. I will also transform understandings of old age itself, revealing the vital but overlooked role of health as a measure of age at this time.

The study has great modern-day relevance, with the potential to spark debates on the wellbeing of an expanding ageing population.