Principles Chapter 12
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Define aging and explain why research on aging has recently increased.
Compare historical and contemporary perspectives on age.
- Age structure is the number of people of each age level within the society; role structure is the number and type of positions available to them.
- Two hundred years ago, people divided the age spectrum into "babyhood," a very short childhood, and then adulthood. If physical labor of young people is necessary for society's survival, then young people are considered "little adults" and are expected to act like adults and do adult work. Older people are also expected to continue to be productive for the benefit of the society as long as they are physically able. In preindustrial societies, people of all ages help with the work, and little training is necessary for the roles that they fill. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the United States, for example, older individuals helped with the work and were respected because they were needed - and because few people lived that long.
- In preindustrial societies, people of all ages are expected to share the work, and the contributions of older people are valued. In industrial societies, however, older people are often expected to retire so that younger people may take their place.
Explain the typical American living arrangements for older persons.
- Many older persons live alone or in an informal family setting. Support services and day care help older individuals who are frail or disabled cope with their day-to-day needs, although many older people do not have the financial means to pay for these services.
- Nursing homes are the most restrictive environment for older persons. Many nursing home residents have major physical and/or cognitive problems that prevent them from living in any other setting, or they do not have available caregivers in their family. (2 types long term and killed term)
- Aging in place - some older adults remain in the residence where they have lived for many years
List and describe support services for older persons.
- Help with day-to-day and very expensive when not provided by state or federally funded programs.
- Homemaker services perform basic chores. Some provide balance meals at set locations.
- Day-care centers have also been developed to help older person maintain as much dignity and autonomy as possible.
Explain the social significance of age.
Beyond indicating how old or young a person is, age is socially significant because it defines what is appropriate for or expected of people at various stages.
Explain what the "graying" of Japan means for women in that society.
- People over the age of 65 will eventually take of 25 percent of the overall population.
- When women have been discussed in regard to the aging population, the subject has primarily been caregiving for elderly relatives. However, with over 60 percent of Japanese women in the labor force, greater pressure is being place on Japanese policy makers to consider how the government can play a larger role in the care of the aging population, rather than placing the burden completely on families, particularly women.
Describe trends in aging and explain how life expectancy has changed in the United States during the twentieth century.
- Over the past 25 years, the U.S. population has been aging. The median age (the age at which half the people are younger and half are older) has increased by 6 years. This change was partly a result of the Baby Boomers moving into middle age and partly a result of more people living longer. The population over age of 85 has been growing especially fast - graying of America.
- The aging of the U.S. population resulted from an increase in life expectancy combined with a decrease in birth rates.
Discuss ageism and describe and describe the negative stereotypes associated with older persons.
- Ageism is the prejudice and discrimination against people on the basis of age, particularly against older persons.
- Ageism against older persons is rooted in the assumption that people become unattractive, unintelligent, asexual, unemployment, and mentally incompetent as they grow older.
- Reinforced by stereotypes - stereotyped as thinking and moving slowly; as being bound to themselves and their past, unable to change and grow; as being unable to move forward and often moving backward. Viewed as cranky, sickly, and lacking in social value; as egocentric and demanding; as shallow, enfeebled, aimless, and absentminded.
- Media contributes to negative images of older persons. Stereotypes contribute to the view that women are old 10 or 15 years sooner than men.
Distinguish between chronological age and functional age and note the social significance of each.
- Chronological age is a person�s age based on date of birth.
- Functional age is observable individual attributes such as physical appearance, mobility, strength, coordination, and mental capacity that are used to assign people to age categories.
Trace the process of aging through the life course, noting the social consequences of age at each stage.
- Children today are often viewed as an economic liability; they cannot contribute to the family�s financial well-being and must be supported. In industrialized and postindustrial societies, the skills necessary for many roles are more complex and the number of unskilled positions are limited. Consequently, children are expected to attend school and learn the necessary skills for future employment rather than perform unskilled labor. Further, older people are typically expected to retire so that younger people can assume their economic, political, and social roles. However, when older people have fewer productive roles to fill, age-based inequality tends to increase.
- Infancy and childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adulthood.
Distinguish between functionalist, symbolic interactionist, and conflict perspectives on aging.
- Functionalist explanations of aging focus on how older persons adjust to their changing roles in society; the gradual transfer of statuses and roles from one generation to the next is necessary for the functioning of society. (disengagement theory - older persons make a normal and healthy adjustment to aging when they detach themselves from their social roles and prepare for their eventual death.
- Activity theory, a part of the symbolic interactionist perspective, states that people change in late middle age and find substitutes for previous statuses, roles, and activities. This theory asserts that people do not want to withdraw unless restricted by poor health or disability.
- Conflict theorists link the loss of status and power experienced by many older persons to their lack of ability to produce and maintain wealth in a capitalist economy.
Describe the relationship between wealth, poverty, and aging.
- Many of the positive images of aging and suggestions on how to avoid the most negative aspects of ageism are based on an assumption of class privilege, meaning that people can afford plastic surgery, exercise classes, and social activities such as ballroom dancing or golf, and that they have available time and facilities to engage in pursuits that will "keep them young."
- However, many older people with meager incomes, little savings, and poor health, as well as those who are isolated in rural areas or high-crime sections of central cities, do not have the same opportunities to follow popular recommendations about "successful aging."
- For many older people of color, aging is not so much a matter of seeking to defy one's age but rather of attempting to survive in a society that devalues both old age and minority status.
- If we compare wealth with income, we find that older people tend to have more wealth but less income than younger people.
Describe how age, gender and poverty are intertwined.
Describe how age, race/ethnicity, and economic inequality are intertwined.
The physical, psychological, and social processes associated with growing older.
A person�s age based on date of birth.
A term used to describe observable individual attributes such as physical appearance, mobility, strength, coordination, and mental capacity that are used to assign people to age categories.
An estimate of the average lifetime of people born in a specific year.
A group of people born within a specified period in time.
The study of aging and older people.
The inequalities, differences, segregation, or conflict between age groups.
Prejudice and discrimination against people on the basis of age, particularly against older people.
Certain benefit payments made by the government (Social Security, for example).
A term used to describe physical abuse, psychological abuse, financials exploitation, and medical abuse or neglect of people age 65 or older.
The proposition that older persons make a normal and healthy adjustment to aging when they detach themselves from their social roles and prepare for their eventual death. (Functionalist)
The proposition that people tend to shift gears in late middle age and find substitutes for previous statuses, roles , and activities. (Symbolic Interactionist)
An organization that provides a homelike facility or home-based care (or both) for people who are terminally ill.
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