• ageing;
  • embodiment;
  • noncompliance;
  • nursing;
  • postmodernism;
  • risk

In this paper it is argued that the way in which ageing is portrayed is culturally constructed and historically located. The terminology used to describe older people becomes part of nursing taxonomy but the issue that it is a cultural construct remains hidden. Nurses use histories and records as a means of communication about the condition of the client or patient. The notes mediate the way in which the patient comes to be known as an individual in need of services and help define the way in which nursing care is undertaken. Nursing notes help construct the ‘manageable’ patient. Noncompliance disrupts this notion of the manageable patient and it challenges medical and nursing dominance of the body. However, noncompliance then becomes reinterpreted as ‘risk’, which has the effect of extending the clinical gaze from the confines of the body to extra-corporeal spaces. Older people, because of their corporeality, can subvert and resist this clinical gaze.