Social Impact of Ageing on the Older Person Life Span Changes Our purpose in life changes as we grow older. Infancy, childhood and adolescence all revolve around preparation for adult life and responsibilities. We are living at home, with the support of our parents and families to guide us through. Adulthood bring with them increasing involvement in work, marriage and family life. We are now independent and living life according to our own perceptions. Persons in old age are in a period of slow down as opposed to the speed and pace of the previous life stages.
They will have experienced retirement, death of loved ones and increasing dependency, which may occur due to health limitations. From a psychosocial viewpoint, the movement from child to adult involves an increasing attachment to one’s social groups through meaningful and productive means (work, social interactions, and friendships). Age old sees these relationships being given up and lessened. This may help account for the reports that the very old are isolated, a burden to society and have feelings of unworthiness. Clinical depression a common problem among older people and can be exacerbated by these perceptions.
Social Issues Social problems which effect older people include: * Isolation: Social isolation occurs where people are living without contact from our people. It can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. It can be caused by the following things: * Role loss * Living alone * Loss of a spouse * Health problems * Decreased Mobility: Physical mobility, the capability of movement, is necessary for the health and well-being of all persons, but is especially important in older adults because a variety of factors impinge upon mobility with aging.
Hogue (1984) identified mobility as the most important functional ability that determines the degree of independence and health care needs among older persons population. * Attitudes: Older people are generally not assertive because many were brought up in a culture in which the individual had fewer rights than they have today. Hence, few appeal against official decisions, seek help from elected representatives, or try to overcome bureaucratic inertia. * Poverty: The inability to buy needed services to maintain a good quality of life is a problem for many older people.
Poverty threshold is defined by comparing a person’s income with the level of prices of the basic commodities of life. Those with incomes below the minimum level needed for subsistence are deemed to be living in poverty. Relative poverty is the state of deprivation defined by social standards. It is fixed by a contrast with others in the society who are not considered poor. Poverty is then seen as lack of equal opportunities. It is based on subjective measures of poverty. In general the older the person, the poorer they are. Because men die earlier than women, the older group consists of relatively more women.
Many older women have no occupational pensions and depend on a state pension, which is a very small amount. Poverty therefore is most common in older ladies, particularly those who never married. The Social Effects of Ageing Ageing Disease Disability Housing Issues: Environmental Issues: The location and setting of their homes can cause issues for some older people. Many cannot afford to, or want to move. Structural Issues: Many older people’s home are in disrepair and ill health or disability can prevent them from being able to maintain their homes properly.
In Westmeath, we have a care and repair scheme that helps people with these problems. Disability: Dwellings can become unsuitable due to the onset of disability. * Stairs * Bathroom * Laundry * Access to the house There are ways to address these issues: * Stair lifts * Railings and guard rails * Ramps * Home help Choosing to move home: No one looks forward to moving into a nursing home or putting a loved one there. But what to do when Dad is losing an alarming amount of weight because he lives alone and doesn’t eat well, or when Mom’s deepening depression and forgetfulness make her neglectful of vital medications?
A nursing home may truly be the best option. You may be able to push back the day of reckoning for months or years. There is likely more support in your community than you suspect. Tap the local Meals on Wheels program to help your father stay well nourished, for instance, or adult day care to take the edge off your mother’s depression by connecting her with other people. However, a frail elderly person who may have already fallen and broken a hip or who has been wandering the neighbourhood because of progressing dementia must have full-time care. Reasons for Moving: 1. To be nearer to family members willing to offer help and care. . To move away from a dwelling that cannot be repaired and adapted. 3. To move to sheltered accommodation if living alone is no longer safe. Retirement: Retirement might coincide with important life changes; a retired worker might move to a new location, for example a retirement community, thereby having less frequent contact with their previous social context and adopting a new lifestyle. Often retirees volunteer for charities and other community organizations. Tourism is a common marker of retirement and for some becomes a way of life, such as for so called grey nomads.
Often retirees are called upon to care for grandchildren and occasionally aged parents. For many it gives them more time to devote to a hobby or sport such as golf or sailing. On the other hand, many retirees feel restless and suffer from depression as a result of their new situation. Although it is not scientifically possible to directly show that retirement either causes or contributes to depression, the newly retired are one of the most vulnerable societal groups when it comes to depression most likely due to confluence of increasing age and deteriorating health status.
Retirement coincides with deterioration of one’s health that correlates with increasing age and this likely plays a major role in increased rates of depression in retirees. Longitudinal and cross-sectional studies have shown that healthy elderly and retired people are as happy or happier and have an equal quality of life as they age as compared to younger employed adults, therefore retirement in and of itself are not likely to contribute to development of depression.
Many people in the later years of their lives, due to failing health, require assistance, sometimes in extremely expensive treatments – in some countries – being provided in a nursing home. Those who need care, but are not in need of constant assistance, may choose to live in a retirement home. Ageism: Whether images of ageing are based on personal views, or collaborative views generated from societal influence, the fact is, aging is generally perceived as a less than desirable inevitability.
Ageing is not only seen as being “one step closer to death”, but it is traditionally associated with images of physical illness, senility and helplessness. However, in truth, the elderly are a vastly diverse group of individuals that cannot be so easily classified. However, impressions often develop into socially acquired attitudes that affect how we deal with individuals on the basis of their age and in turn affect the stereotyped individual’s self-concept and self-esteem. What changes is not older peoples’ capacity to be vigorous, productive and creative.
Rather, society is unwilling to see seniors as vital and active contributors far beyond traditional retirement age, and many older individuals absorb this concept into their own mind-sets. Can you think of any examples of ageism? Ageist beliefs lead to undervaluing the contributions of older people and providing inadequate societal resources for them. Political activism is needed to fight ageism. Persons at all level society and health professionals often pay lip service to the problem, but fail to provide the resources needed to overcome them.
Aging Well – the work of George Valliant Since 1937, Valliant was studying people 237 Harvard students and 332 disadvantaged people from inner-city, Boston. He claims that the study has shown that successful aging is not an oxymoron. The study shows factors that if adhered to before the age of 50 which can lead to good mental and physical health in older age. * A good marriage before age 50 * Ingenuity to cope with difficult situations * Altruistic behaviour * Stop smoking Do not use alcohol to the point where your behaviour shames you or your family * Stay physically active. Walk, run, mow your own grass, play tennis or golf * Keep your weight down * Pursue education as far as your native intelligence permits * After retirement, stay creative, do new things, learn how to play again “Aging happy and well, instead of sad and sick, is at least under some personal control,” says Valliant as he summed up the 64-year study, which was supported primarily by the National Institute on Aging. We have considerable control over our weight, our exercise, our education, and our abuse of cigarettes and alcohol. With hard work and/or therapy, our relationships with our spouses and our coping styles can be changed for the better. A successful old age may lie not so much in our stars and genes as in ourselves. “