Late Adulthood and Death
Because of the rise in life expectancy, the number of the older adults is increasing. These are mostly people who are over the age of 65 years. When people age, there is usually the tendency of categorizing them and judging them on the sole basis of their sequential age. This then can be viewed as ageism. In the past, there were many stereotypes about the older adults and though they are still there, they are less held. One of the stereotypes on older adults is the way most of the young people speak to them and this is termed as elderspeak. For instance, instead of using their surnames, the people will refer to the elderly using nicknames. Further, elderspeak is also used in cases where only the age but not the person themselves is known to a service provider. This is not taken well by all and some of the elderly people may react in an angry manner. Ageism can be viewed as a prophecy that is self-fulfilling and that which weakens ones brains and health. The idea of believing in ageism has a great impact. This is on the adults and thus with such ideas of ageism, chances are that they will loose their capability when they become of the old age. Because of their position in the society, many of the older adults agree with these stereotypes about ageism. Having a threat that is imagined also affects the elderly who are stereotyped group of people (Gilmer, Aldwin & Carolyn, 2003). There is believe that the older people do not have cognitive ability. This also affects the older adults since they will have the fear of loosing their minds. Therefore, due to these fears, their cognitive abilities are suppressed.
However, this believe on ageism can be overcome. This can be by promoting health and wellness into this stage in life and thus this leads to the mitigation of the negative effects that are associated with aging. This can be achieved by ignoring those differences that people hold onto about this health and well being. There are health factors that are common with age. These are diabetes, abdominal fat, high levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and the lack of exercise. To promote the health of these older adult, individuals should check on their lifestyles and the social context. Lifestyle is about the things that they eat, and how often they exercise while the social context defines the status of the person socioeconomically, discriminations that they go through and how they generally lead their social life which is the way in which they interact with other people. For instance, on personal health, people should lead the lifestyles that will enable them have a healthy living. Eating healthy means that this person will be healthy even in the old age. Nutrition is very important since naturally, the body becomes less efficient in food digestion with age (Anderson & Horvath, 2004). Exercising is also very important. To ensure that the older adults exercise even more, there should be materials for examples that are designed for them. However, the use of bicycles is not the only way through which they exercise. Furthermore, they need less vigorous exercises like walking, stair climbing and gardening. Further, they should shun from behaviors that may weaken them for example smoking. It is a natural process that with age, the body becomes more vulnerable and thus the older adults are susceptible to diseases. Therefore, the lifestyles that they lead determine much on their old age life. The social context will affect the older adults since they need to feel as part of the society they live in but not as a burden to the people around them.
As one nears the end of life, they develop the desire to prolong their life. This is because of the fear of death and thus people need social support at this time when they feel that they have approached the end of their lives. Thus, the older adults need to interact with other people and not only those of their age. According to Hagestad & Dannefer (2001), people regardless of their age will have a narrowed life perspective if their interactions are only with those of their age. Therefore, the older adults if left on their own for example by being segregated from the rest of the society will have more fears towards death. It is important thus that they relate with other people of different ages in the society. This way, they will most probably see the possibility of their lives being prolonged. It is through interactions with other members of the society that they will involve their minds in other activities other than the thought of death. Social interactions and relationships also increase ones activity. When one is active, they will be happy and thus boosting their health. This then results to increased satisfaction as well as lengthening of life. Relationships can also be viewed from the perspective of husband and wife. Where spouses manage to get to old age together, chances are high that they will be happier and healthier than those of the same age who do not have partners. Therefore, with this happiness that they share in their marriage relationships, the fears of death will be minimized and they will have the hopes of living even longer.
In late adulthood, cultural and personal attitudes help in maintaining a sense of identity and dignity. Further, they also help in the enhancement of relationships, give a clarification of the life of an individual and its meaning and finally preparing one for death. The way in which people age is dependent on factors of personality and this also affects the ways in which they die. Personal attitudes for example accepting that one is aging and not despairing in life determine the dignity of the life that one lives in their old age. If the older adults accept that aging is a natural process that people go through and not despair because of their age, then they would lead a dignified life. Failure to accept this and despairing means that the elderly live in denial, something that can bring them stress and thus fasten their deaths. Cultural attitudes also determine dignity in late adulthood. In cultures where older adults are allowed to go on engaging in activities that the society values, they will have a good aging. This is because they will maintain the activities, interactions and interests that they previously involved in. This way, their happiness will be enhanced since involvement brings satisfaction and happiness. Dignity in life can be measured by the level of satisfaction and happiness and thus these activities which bring happiness also enable the elderly to lead a life of dignity which associates with ones well being.
Anderson, G.F. & Horvath, J. (2004). The Growing Burden of Chronic Disease in America. Public Health Reports, Vol. 119(3):263-270.
Gilmer, D.F., Aldwin, Carolyn, M. (2003). Health, illness, and optimal ageing: biological and psychosocial perspectives. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Hagestad, G.O. & Dannefer, D. (2001). Concepts and theories of aging: beyond microfication in social science approaches. In handbook of aging and the social sciences, 5th Ed. New York: Academic press.