Developmental Psych Test 5 Essay

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Gerontologists (Specialists who study aging)
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-Late adulthood as a period of considerable diversity in which people change -Growth in some areas, decline in others
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When does late adulthood begin?
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It begins at age 60 and ends at death
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We cannot define old age by chronological years alone…
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we must also take into account people’s physical and psychological well-being, their functional ages.
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Some researchers divide aging people into three groups
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-Young old are healthy and active (65-74) -Old old have some health problems and difficulties (75-84) -Oldest old are frail and need care (85+)
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The percentage of people over the age of 65 is projected to
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rise to almost 25 percent of he population by the year 2050.
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Because people are living longer
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late adulthood is increasing in length.
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The fastest growing segment of the population is the
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oldest old—people who are 85 or older. In the last two decades, the size of this group has nearly doubled
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The population explosion of older people is much higher in ______ than ________
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Developing countries the USA
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__________ of elderly are increasing substantially in countries around the globe
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Sheer numbers
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By 2050, number of adults worldwide over the age 60 will
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exceed the number of people under age of 15 for first time in history.
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Who are the oldest old?
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-Fastest growing segment of the population -People who are 85 or older -Group’s size has nearly doubled in the last 20 years -Trend is occurring in every developed country in the world
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Ageism
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-Prejudice and discrimination directed at older people is manifested in several ways —Negative attitudes about older people, especially about competence and attractiveness —Job discrimination
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Today’s ageism is, in some ways,
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a peculiarly modern and Western cultural phenomenon -Some believe that they are in less than fully in command of their faculties.
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This negative view of older people is connected to the
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reverence for youth and youthful appearance that characterizes many Western societies.
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Discrimination
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-Identical behavior by an older person and a younger person is interpreted differently -People talk baby talk to persons in nursing homes -Most negative views are based on misinformation
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Primary Aging
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aging is aging that involves universal and irreversible changes that, due to genetic programming, occur as people get older.
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Secondary aging
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changes in physical and cognitive functioning that are due to illness, health habits, and other individual differences, but which are not due to increased age itself and are not inevitable.
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You know you are aging when…
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-*One of the most obvious outward signs of aging is the hair.* -Gray or white -Thinner hair -The face and other parts of the body become wrinkled as the skin loses elasticity and collagen, (the protein that forms the basic fibers of body tissue.) -People may shrink as much as 4 inches. -Cartilage in backbone becomes thinner
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Double Standard???
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Although gray hair is often characterized as “distinguished” in men, the same trait in women is viewed more often as a sign of being “over the hill
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Double Standard
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-Women, especially in Western cultures, suffer from the double standard for appearance -Women who show signs of aging are judged more harshly than are men -Women are more likely to dye their hair -Women are more likely to have plastic surgery —*The double standard is diminishing and becoming more a concern for both sexes.*
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Changes in Internal Function
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-Brain becomes smaller and lighter with age -Reduction of blood flow to the brain -Space between the skull and the brain doubles between age 20 and age 70 -Number of neurons, or brain cells, declines
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All Systems Declining?
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-75-year-old’s heart pumps less than three-quarters of the blood it pumped during early adulthood -Efficiency of the respiratory system declines with age -Digestive system produces less digestive juice and is less efficient in pushing food through the system
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OSTEOPOROSIS, (a condition in which the bones become brittle, fragile, and thin, often brought about by a lack of calcium in the diet.)
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-Women are especially susceptible -Bones become brittle, fragile, and thin -Often brought about by a lack of calcium in the diet -25 percent of women over 60 have osteoporosis -Largely preventable with sufficient calcium and exercise -Osteoporosis is the primary cause of broken bones.
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Peripheral Slowing Hypothesis
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-Older adults’ reaction time slows significantly —Suggests that overall processing speed declines in peripheral nervous system (nerves that branch from spinal cord and brain to body’s extremities)
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Generalized Slowing Hypothesis
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-Processing in all parts of the nervous system, including the brain, is less efficient —Older people have more accidents —Decision process is slowed down
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Senses- Vision (Old age brings a distinct declining in the sense organs of the body)
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-Lens becomes less transparent and the pupils shrink -Optic nerve becomes less efficient -Distant objects are seen less clearly -More light is needed to see and it takes longer to adjust to a change from light to darkness and vice versa. -Driving at night becomes difficult. -Reading becomes more of a strain and eye strain occurs more easily.
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Vehicle Fatalities Across the Life Span
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Drivers over age 70 have a fatal accident record comparable to that of teenagers when crashes re calculated per mile of driving. -WHY?! CUZ REACTION TIME SLOWS TF DOWN NI99A
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CATaracts
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-Cloudy or opaque areas of the lens of eye that interfere with passing light, frequently develop -Cataracts can be surgically removed and replaced with intraocular lens implants
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Glaucoma
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Pressure in the fluid of the eye Glaucoma can be corrected with drugs or surgery -It must be detected early enough.
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Macular Degenerations -Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
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-The most common cause of blindness in people over the age of 60 is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which affects the macula, a yellowish area of the eye located near the retina at which visual perception is most acute. -Macular degeneration leads to a gradual deterioration of the center of the retina, leaving only peripheral vision.
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Hearing
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–30 percent of adults between 65 and 74 have some hearing loss –50 percent of adults over 75 have hearing loss –High frequencies are the hardest to hear
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Taste and Smell
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-Both senses become less discriminating in old age -Due to decline in taste buds on tongue -Olfactory bulbs in the brain shrink and reduce the ability to smell —People eat less and get poor nutrition —Older people may over-salt their food and develop hypertension, or high blood pressure
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Common physical disorders
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-Leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer, and stroke -Higher incidence of infectious disease -Arthritis -Hypertension -*Close to three-quarters of people in late adulthood die from these problems*
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Because aging is associated with a weakening of the body’s immune system, older adults are also more susceptible
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to infectious diseases
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In addition to their risk of fatal diseases and conditions, most older people have
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at least one chronic, long-term condition
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For instance, arthritis, an inflammation of one or more joints, afflicts
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roughly half of older people.
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Arthritis cannot be cured but
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aspirin and other drugs can relieve some of the swelling and reduce the pain
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Around one-third of older people have
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hypertension, or high blood pressure.
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Many people who have high blood pressure are unaware of their condition because
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it does not have any symptoms, which makes it more dangerous.
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Over time, higher tension within the circulatory system can result in deterioration of the blood vessels and heart, and can
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raise the risk of cerebrovascular disease, or stroke, if it is not treated
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Common psychological disorders
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-Major depression -Drug-induced psychological disorders -Some 15 to 25 percent of those over age 65 are thought to show some symptoms of psychological disorder, although this represents a lower prevalence rate than in younger adults. -The behavioral symptoms related to these disorders are sometimes different in those over 65 than those displayed by younger adults.
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Common metal disorders
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Major neurocognitive disorder (dementia)
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Major depression
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-Major depression is characterized by feelings of intense sadness, pessimism, and hopelessness. -Some studies suggest that the rate of depression actually may be lower during late adulthood. -One reason for this contradictory finding is that there *may be two kinds of depression in older adulthood: depression that continues from earlier stages of life and depression that occurs as a result of aging.*
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The most common mental disorder of elderly people is
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*Dementia*, a broad category of serious memory loss accompanied by declines in other mental functioning, which encompasses a number of diseases. -Although dementia has many causes, the *symptoms are similar: declining memory, lessened intellectual abilities, and impaired judgment.* – The chances of experiencing dementia increase with age. Less than 2 percent of people between 60 and 65 years are diagnosed with dementia, but the percentages double for every 5-year period past 65.
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Another dementia fact
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Almost one-third of people over the age of 85 suffer from some sort of dementia. There are some ethnic differences, too, with African Americans and Hispanics showing higher levels of dementia than Caucasians
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Alzheimer’s Disease -Progressive brain disorder -Produces loss of memory and confusion -Incidence and projection
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-Leads to deaths of 100,000 people in U.S. each year -Nineteen percent of people 75 to 84 have Alzheimer’s -Nearly half of people over age of 85 are affected by the disease. -In fact, unless a cure is found, some 14 million people will be victims of Alzheimer’s by 2050 — more than three times more than the current number.
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Alzheimer’s disease on a molecular scale
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-The brain , and several areas of the hippocampus and frontal and temporal lobes show deterioration. – Furthermore, certain neurons die, which leads to a shortage of various neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine
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Alzheimer’s disease: A step toward prevention?
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-Scientists have idenitfied a rare gene mutation that keeps plaque from forming in the brain, preventing the symptoms of the disease. – If a drug can be found to mimic the effects of the mutation, a cure for Alzheimer’s may be found.
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Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (Brain scans of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease show twisted clumps of nerve cells that are characteristic of the disease.)
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-Develop gradually -Start with forgetfulness -Affect recent memories first and then older memories fade. -Causes total confusion, inability to speak intelligibly or recognize closest family members -Loss of voluntary muscle control —Because victims of the disorder are initially aware that their memories are failing and often understand quite well the future course of the disease, they may suffer from anxiety, fear, and depression — emotions not difficult to understand, given the grim prognosis. —
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The Biology of Alzheimer’s Disease
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Production of beta amyloid precursor protein— a protein that normally helps the production and growth of neurons—goes awry -Produces large clumps of cells that trigger inflammation and deterioration of nerve cell – Brain shrinks and several areas of hippocampus and frontal and temporal lobes show deterioration -Neuron death leads to shortage of various neurotransmitters (ex. acetylcholine)
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Genetic link for Alzheimer’s?
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-Inherited disorder -Nongenetic factors such as high blood pressure or diet may increase susceptibility -Cross-cultural influences —-In one cross-cultural study, poor Black residents in a Nigerian town were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than a comparable sample of African Americans living in the United States. The researchers speculate that variations in diet between the two groups—the residents of Nigeria ate mainly vegetables—might account for the differences in the Alzheimer’s rates.—-
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Alzheimer’s treatment and cure
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-No cure -Treatment deals only with the symptoms -Drugs effective in only half of Alzheimer’s patients -Many end in nursing homes
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The most promising drugs for alzheimer’s are
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related to the loss of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (Ach) that occurs in some forms of Alzheimer’s disease.
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_______________ are the most common drugs prescribed, and they alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease
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-Donepezil (Aricept), -galantamine (Razadyne) -rivastigmine (Exelon -tacrine (Cognex) —Still, they are effective in only half of Alzheimer’s patients, and only temporarily.
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Alzheimer’s care
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-As victims lose the ability to feed and clothe themselves, or even to control bladder and bowel functions, they must be cared for 24 hours a day. -Because such care is typically impossible for even the most dedicated families, most Alzheimer’s victims end their lives in nursing homes. -*Patients with Alzheimer’s make up some two-thirds of those in nursing homes.*
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Caring for people with Alzheimer’s Disease
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-Make patients feel secure -Provide labels for everyday objects -Keep clothing simple -Put bathing on a schedule -Prevent people with the disease from driving -Monitor the use of the telephone -Provide opportunities for exercise -Take care of caregiver
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More ways to care for people with Alzheimer’s
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-Make patients feel secure in their home environments by keeping them occupied in everyday tasks of living as long as possible. -Provide labels for everyday objects, furnish calendars and detailed but simple lists, and give oral reminders of time and place. -Keep clothing simple: Provide clothes with few zippers and buttons, and lay them out in the order in which they should be put on. -Put bathing on a schedule. People with Alzheimer’s may be afraid of falling and of hot water, and may therefore avoid needed bathing. -Prevent people with the disease from driving. —Although patients often want to continue driving, their accident rate is high (some 20 times higher than average.) -Monitor the use of the telephone. Alzheimer patients who answer the phone have been victimized by agreeing to requests of telephone salespeople and investment counselors. -Provide opportunities for exercise, such as a daily walk. This prevents muscle deterioration and stiffness. -Caregivers should remember to take time off. Although caring for an Alzheimer’s patient can be a full-time chore, caregivers need to lead their own lives. Seek out support from community service organizations. -Call or write the Alzheimer’s Association, which can provide support and information
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Relationship Between Aging and Illness
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-Certain diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, have clear genetic component -Economic well-being also plays role -Psychological factors play important role in determining people’s susceptibility to illness—and ultimately likelihood of death —Whether an older person is ill or well depends less on age than on a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition, past and present environmental factors, and psychological factors.—
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Spending more money on health care
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In 2002, for example, older individuals averaged $3,600 in out-of-pocket health care expenditures, an increase of 45 percent in ten years. Furthermore, older people spend almost 13 percent of their total expenditures on health care, more than two times more than younger individuals.
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Chronic Illness
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-*Most older people have at least one chronic, long-term condition* -Arthritis –Inflammation of one or more joints, is common, striking around half of older people -Hypertension —High blood pressure, striking about one-third of older people
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Can well-being improve?
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-*People can do specific things to enhance their physical and psychological well-being and their longevity – their active life spans — during old age* -Eat a proper diet -Exercise -Avoid threats to health, such as smoking
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Sexuality in Old Age: Use It or Lose It
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-Related to physical and mental health and previous sexual activity -Evidence suggests that people are sexually active well into their 80s and 90s -Previous sexual activity increases the desire for sex -Good physical and mental health are necessary. -Studies show that 43 percent of men and 33 percent of women over age 70 masturbate. -Two-thirds of men and women over age 70 had sex with their spouses on average about once a week. -It takes men longer to get an erection and women’s vaginas become thin and inelastic, and they produce less lubrication
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Approaches to Aging
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-Genetic preprogramming theories of aging -Wear-and-tear theories of aging -Life expectancy
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-Genetic preprogramming theories of aging
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-*Genetic preprogramming theories of aging suggest that our body’s dna genetic code contains a built-in time limit for the reproduction of human cells.* -One theory is that genetic material has a “death gene” that is programmed to direct the body to deteriorate and die. -Another theory is that genetic instructions for running the body can be read only a certain number of times before they become illegible.
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Wear-and-tear theories of aging
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-*argue that the mechanical functions of the body simply wear out with age.* -Some theories say that the body’s constant manufacture of energy to fuel its activities creates by-products, which eventually reach such high levels that they impair the body’s normal functioning. -Free radicals, electrically charged atoms, are produced in the cells and may cause negative effects on other cells. -This is a more optimistic theory, which suggests that longevity can be extended by eliminating the toxins produced by the body.
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Life expectancy
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*the average age of death for members of a population, has been steadily increasing.* -in 1776, the average life expectancy was 35. -in 1900, the average life expectancy was 47. -For a person born in 1980 life expectancy is 74. -By 2050, the average life expectancy is predicted to be 80. -Health conditions are better. -Many diseases are wiped out or better controlled through medicine. -People’s working conditions are better. -We are working on improving environmental conditions. -The maximum human lifespan is believed to hover around 120. -To extend the maximum lifespan would probably take genetic alterations.
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According to genetic preprogramming theories of aging
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our DNA genetic code contains a built-in limit on the length of life.
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Reconciling Theories of Aging
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-Each is supported by some research -Each seems to explain certain aspects of aging -Why the body begins to deteriorate and die remains something of a mystery —Genetic programming theories and wear-and-tear theories make different suggestions about the inevitability of death. —Genetic programming theories suggest that there is a built-in time limit to life—it’s programmed in the genes, after all. —On the other hand, wear-and-tear theories, particularly those that focus on the toxins that are built up during the course of life, paint a somewhat more optimistic view. They suggest that if a means can be found to eliminate the toxins produced by the body and by exposure to the environment, aging might well be slowed.
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Living to Age 100?
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If increases in life expectancy continue, it may be a common occurrence for people to live to be 100 by the end of this century
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Lifespan averages
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-Caucasian in the US is likely to live 76 years -African American is likely to live 71 years -Japanese is likely to live 79 years -Gambian is likely to live less than 45 years Gender averages -Male born in the US is most likely to live 73 years -Female born in the US is most likely to live 80 years -Women’s hormones (estrogen and progesterone) protect them from heart attacks. -Women experience less stress in the workforce than men. -Women may eat more healthy diets than men. -Men smoked more in the past. -Racial disparities may reflect better eating habits (Japanese) and lower socioeconomic well-being (African-Americans).
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Finding the Fountain of Youth
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-Telomere therapy (tip of chromosomes grow shorter with each cell division. When telomere goes away, cell division stops) -Unlocking longevity gene -Drug therapy -Reducing free radicals through antioxidant drugs (free radicals are unstable molecules that result from cell functioning and may drift, causing cell damage; some believe they are reduced by antioxidants.) -Reducing calories (fewer free radicals) -Bionic solution: replacing worn-out organs (transplants)
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Recap of racial and gender differences in the lifespan
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-Average white child born in the U.S. is likely to live 76 years. The average African American child is likely to live 5 years less. -A male born in the U.S. today is most likely to live to the age of 76; a female will probably live some 5 years longer.
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True/False Researchers no longer see cognitive abilities of older people as inevitably declining
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*TRUE* -Overall intellectual ability and specific cognitive skills, such as memory and problem solving, are more likely to remain strong. In fact, with the appropriate practice and exposure to certain kinds of environmental stimuli, cognitive skills can actually improve.
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Intelligence in Older People
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-Older research studies and findings —Notion that older people become less cognitively adept initially arose from misinterpretations of research evidence -Problems —Cohort effects —Reaction time components —Retesting effects —Subject attrition (Initially drew a simple comparison between younger and older people’s performance on the same IQ test, using traditional cross-sectional experimental methods)
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Schaie: Sequential methods
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-Some abilities gradually decline throughout adulthood (starting at age 25); others stay relatively steady -On average, some cognitive declines are found in all abilities by age 67, but they are minimal until the 80s -There are also significant individual differences -No uniform pattern of age-related changes across all intellectual abilities – Environmental and cultural factors play a role -Fluid intelligence declines with age, while crystallized intelligence remains steady and may, in some cases, actually improve. -Strategies that people have acquired remain steady and, in some cases, actually improve.
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Environmental Factors -Certain environmental and cultural factors are related to greater or lesser degrees of intellectual decline -Lesser declines are associated with many factors
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-Schaie and Willis taught people whose reasoning and spatial skills had declined a variety of skills. More than half showed significant improvement. -Such PLASTICITY, or modifiability of behavior, suggests that there is nothing fixed about the changes that may occur in intellectual abilities during late adulthood (“Use it or lose it”). -Lesser declines are associated with: —Good health —High SES —Involvement in an intellectually stimulating environment —Flexible personality —Being married to a bright spouse —Maintenance of good perceptual processing speed —Feeling self-satisfied with one’s accomplishments in middle and early old age
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Memory
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-Episodic memory -Semantic memory -Short-term memory
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Memory loss occurs primarily in _________, which relates to specific life experiences
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episodic memory
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What types of memory is unaffected by age?
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-Semantic memories (general knowledge and facts) -Implicit memories (memories about which people are not consciously aware)
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Short-term memory declines gradually until age
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70, when it becomes more pronounced.
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Information presented quickly and verbally is
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forgotten sooner
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New information is more difficult to recall because
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it is not processed as efficiently.
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Episodic memory (Example)
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which relate to specific life experiences such as recalling the year one first visited New York City
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Semantic memory
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general knowledge and facts, e.g., the fact that 2 + 2 = 4
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implicit memories
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memories about which people are not consciously aware, such as how to ride a bike
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T/F Memory capacities do change during old age
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True
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The largest drop is for
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-for information that is presented quickly and verbally, such as when someone staffing a computer helpline rattles off a series of complicated steps for fixing a problem with a computer.
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What else is difficult to recall?
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Information about things that are completely unfamiliar
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Autobiographical memory
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-Pollyanna principle -Recall of material that “fits” current self-view -Particular periods of life are remembered more easily than others
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AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY
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memories of information about one’s own life
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Pollyanna principle
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in which pleasant memories are more likely to be recalled than unpleasant memories.
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Autographical memory frequently follows
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the Pollyanna principle
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People recall material that
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“fits” their current self-view
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Particular periods of life are remembered
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more easily than others.
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Recall of autobiographical memories : 70 year olds
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recalling details from their 20s and 30s best
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Recall of autobiographical memories : 50 year olds
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recalling memories from their teenage years and 20s.
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People of both ages also recall _____ best of all
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more recent memories
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Explanations for apparent changes in memory among older people tend to focus on three main categories
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-Environmental factors -Information processing -deficits -Biological factors
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Environmental Factors
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-Certain environmental and cultural factors are related to greater or lesser degrees of intellectual decline -Lesser declines are associated with many factors
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Information-Processing Deficits
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-Inability to inhibit irrelevant information and thoughts declines -Speed of processing declines -Attention declines -Less efficient retrieval methods
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Biological Factors: Brain and body deterioration
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-Especially frontal lobes -Some studies also show deterioration of hippocampus
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Continuation of education in old age can improve cognitive skills
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-Intellectual growth and change continue throughout people’s lives -Older adults often have no trouble maintaining their standing in rigorous college classes
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Logging on Late in Life
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-One of the biggest generational divides involves the use of technology. -People 65 and older are far less likely to use technology than younger individuals. -They are less interested and motivated because less likely to be working or need technology for job.
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Continuity and Change in Personality
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-Fundamental continuity to personality -Profound social environmental changes throughout adulthood may produce fluctuations and changes in personality -Some discontinuities in development -What is important to a person at age 80 is not necessarily the same as what was important at age 40.
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Discontinuities of Development: What Do Theorists Say?
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Changes in personality occur as a result of new challenges in later adulthood.
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Erik Erikson
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Ego-Integrity-versus-Despair
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Ego-Integrity-versus-Despair
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Process of looking back over one’s life, evaluating it, and coming to terms with it
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Ego-Integrity-versus-Despair components
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-Integrity —Comes when people feel they have realized and fulfilled the possibilities that have come their way -Despair —Occurs when people feel dissatisfied with their life, and experience gloom, unhappiness, depression, anger, or the feeling that they have failed
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Ego-Integrity-versus-Despair stage
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-Stage begins when the individual experiences a sense of mortality. —-This may be in response to retirement, the death of a spouse or close friends, or may simply result from changing social roles. —No matter what the cause, this sense of mortality precipitates the final life crisis
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The final life crisis manifests itself as a review of the individual’s life-career.
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-Individuals review their life-career to determine if it was a success or failure. -Reminiscence or introspection is most productive when experienced with significant others. -Outcome of this life-career reminiscence can be either positive or negative
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Ego integrity is the result of the positive resolution of the final life crisis.
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-Ego integrity is viewed as the key to harmonious personality development; the individual views their whole of life with satisfaction and contentment. -The ego quality that emerges from a positive resolution is wisdom. -Erikson defines wisdom as a kind of “informed and detached concern with life itself in the face of death itself”
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Conversely, despair is the result of the
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negative resolution or lack of resolution of the final life crisis. This negative resolution manifests itself as a fear of death, a sense that life is too short, and depression.
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Robert Peck -*Personality development in elderly people is occupied by three major developmental tasks or challenges*
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-Redefinition of self-versus-preoccupation-with-work role -Body-transcendence-versus-body-preoccupation -Ego-transcendence-versus-ego-preoccupation
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First task in old age is that people must
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redefine themselves in ways that do not relate to their work-roles or occupations. – People must adjust their values to place less emphasis on themselves as workers or professionals and more on attributes that don’t involve work, such as being a grandparent or a gardener.
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In second major developmental task in late adulthood, elderly individuals can undergo significant changes in their
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physical capabilities as a result of aging. In the body transcendence versus body preoccupation stage, people must learn to cope with and move beyond those physical changes (transcendence).
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In third developmental task, elderly people must come to grips with their
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coming death and understand that although death is inevitable, and probably not too far off, they have made contributions to society. – If people in late adulthood see these contributions, they will experience ego transcendence. -If not, they may become preoccupied with the question of whether their lives had value and worth to society.
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Daniel Levinson People enter late adulthood by passing through transition stage
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-View themselves as being “old” -Recognize stereotypes and loss of power and respect -Serve as resources to younger individuals -Discover new freedom to do things for simple sake of enjoyment and pleasure
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Bernice Neugarten
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Dealt with personalities
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Disintegrated and disorganized personalities
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Some people are unable to accept aging, and they experience despair as they get older. They are often found in nursing homes or are hospitalized.
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Passive-dependent personalities
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Others become fearful with age—fear of falling ill, fear of the future, fear of their own inability to cope. They are so fearful that they may seek out help from family and care providers, even when they don’t need it.
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Defended personalities
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Others respond to the fear of aging in a quite different manner. They try to stop it in its tracks. They may attempt to act young, exercising vigorously, and engaging in youthful activities. Unfortunately, they may set up unrealistic expectations for themselves and run the risk of feeling disappointed as a result.
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Integrated personalities
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The most successful individuals cope comfortably with aging. They accept becoming older and maintain a sense of self dignity. Neugarten found that the majority of the people she studied fell into the final category. They acknowledged aging and were able to look back at their lives and gaze into the future with acceptance.
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Life Review
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in which people examine and evaluate their lives, is a common theme for most personality theorists who focus on late adulthood.
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Reminiscence
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may even have cognitive benefits, improving memory in older people. By reflecting on the past, people activate a variety of memories about people and events in their lives. In turn, these memories may trigger other, related memories, and may bring back sights, sounds, and even smells of the past.
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Life Review and Reminiscence
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-Triggered by increasingly obvious prospect of one’s death -Provides better understanding of past -Resolves lingering problems and conflicts -Leads to sense of sharing, mutuality, and feeling of interconnectedness with others -Process of life review and reminiscence can play an important role in ongoing lives of elderly individuals. It provides continuity between past and present, and may increase awareness of the contemporary world. It also can provide new insights into past and into others, allowing people to continue personality growth and to function more effectively in present
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Age Stratification Approaches to Late Adulthood
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-Suggest that economic resources, power, and privilege are distributed unequally at different stages of the life course —Such inequality is particularly pronounced during late adulthood – Help explain why aging is viewed more positively in less industrialized societies
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Old people
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-Power and prestige for elderly have eroded in industrialized societies -Rapidly changing technology causes older adults to be seen as lacking important skills -Older adults are seen as non-productive members of society and in some cases simply irrelevant
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How culture shapes the way we treat people in late adulthood
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-Views of late adulthood are colored by culture -Compared to Western cultures, Asian societies generally hold elderly people in higher esteem
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Cultures That Revere Old Age Have Several Things in Common
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-Homogeneous in socioeconomic terms -Control of finances by older adults -Continued engagement in socially valued activities -Organized around extended families
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Wisdom (expert knowledge in the practical aspects of life)
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has, until recent years, received little attention from gerontologists and other researchers.
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Wisdom reflects
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accumulation of knowledge, experience, and contemplation -*WISDOM IS NOT THE SAME AS INTELLIGENCE*
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Difference between intelligence and wisdom is
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-*Timing* -While knowledge that is derived from intelligence is related to the here-and-now, wisdom is a more timeless quality. -While intelligence may permit a person to think logically and systematically, wisdom provides an understanding of human behavior.
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Staudinger and Baltes Theory of Mind Study
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-Older participants benefited more from experimental condition designed to promote wise thinking -Older adults appear to be able to draw on a more sophisticated theory of mind —Other research suggests that very wisest individuals may be older adults—
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Successful Aging Secrets (Three major approaches)
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-Disengagement theory -Activity theory -Continuity theory
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Disengagement theory
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suggests that successful aging is characterized by gradual withdrawal.
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Activity theory
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argues that successful aging occurs when people maintain their engagement with the world.
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Continuity theory
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takes a compromise position, suggesting that what is important is maintaining a desired level of involvement.
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Disengagement Theory: Gradual Retreat
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-Late adulthood involves gradual withdrawal from world on physical, psychological, and social levels -Withdrawal is a mutual process and not necessarily negative
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Positive outcomes of the disengagement theory
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-the gradual withdrawal of people in late adulthood permits them to become more reflective about their own lives and less constrained by social roles. —People can become more discerning in their social relationships, focusing on those who best meet their needs. Disengagement can be liberating. —Decreased emotional investment in others can be viewed as beneficial. By investing less emotional energy in their social relationships with others, people in late adulthood are better able to adjust to the increasing frequency of serious illness and death among their peers. -*Early findings were consistent with disengagement theory, later research was not supportive*
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Activity Theory: Continued Involvement
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-Happiness and satisfaction from high level of involvement -Adaptation to inevitable changes -Continuing/replacing previous activities
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Investigating the Activity theory
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-In many non-Western cultures, people remain engaged, active, and busy throughout old age, and the expectation is that people will remain actively involved in everyday life. -Specific nature and quality of the activities in which people engage are likely to be more critical than the mere quantity or frequency of their activities. -Some people view the ability to moderate their pace as one of the bounties of late adulthood. For them, a relatively inactive, and perhaps even solitary, existence is welcomed
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Neither disengagement theory nor activity theory
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provides a complete picture of successful aging
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Continuity Theory: A Compromise Position
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-People need to maintain their desired level of involvement in society to maximize their sense of well-being and self-esteem -Regardless of activity level, most older adults experience positive emotions as frequently as younger individuals -Good physical and mental health is important in determining overall sense of well-being
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Investigating the continuity theory
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–Highly active and social people will be happiest if they largely remain so. Those more retiring individuals, who enjoy solitude and solitary interests, will be happiest if they are free to pursue that level of sociability. –Old age can influence their happiness and satisfaction. Those who view late adulthood in terms of positive are apt to perceive themselves in a more positive light than those who view old age in a more pessimistic and unfavorable way
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Selective Optimization With Compensation:
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A General Model of Successful Aging
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Selective optimization
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Process by which people concentrate on selected skill areas to compensate for losses in other areas
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Elderly individuals engage in compensation for age-related losses
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Outcome is a life that is reduced in some areas, but transformed and modified and, ultimately, successful
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During late adulthood, the range of socioeconomic well-being
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mirrors that of earlier years.
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Places and Spaces
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-Living at home -Specialized living environments —Continuing-care community —–Assisted living —Nursing institutions —–Adult day care —–Skilled nursing
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Although it is true that some people finish their lives in nursing homes, they are a tiny minority
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only 5 percent
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Most people live out their entire lives in
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home environments, typically in the company of at least one other family member.
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People over 65 represent a
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quarter of America’s 9.6 million single-person households
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Roughly two-thirds of people over the age of 65 live
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with other members of the family. – In most cases they live with spouses. —Some older adults live with their siblings, and others live in multigenerational settings with their children, grandchildren, and even occasionally great-grandchildren.
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For married couples, living with a spouse represents
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continuity with earlier life
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for people who move in with their children
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the adjustment to life in a multigenerational setting can be jarring. -Not only is there a potential loss of independence and privacy, but older adults may feel uncomfortable with the way their children are raising their grandchildren.
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Living in extended families is
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more typical than for other groups
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For some 10 percent of those in late adulthood
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home is an institution.
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Continuing care
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all the residents are of retirement age or older; fairly homogeneous in terms of religious, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, and they are often organized by private or religious organizations -tend to be relatively well-off financially.
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Continuing-care communities are making efforts to raise
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*the level of diversity* -attempting to increase opportunities for intergenerational interaction by establishing day care centers on the premises and developing programs that involve younger populations.
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Adult day-care facilities
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elderly individuals receive care only during the day, but spend nights and weekends in their own homes
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Skilled-nursing facilities
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provide full-time nursing care for people who have chronic illnesses or are recovering from a temporary medical condition.
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Greater the extent of nursing home care =
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greater adjustment required of residents
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Loss of independence brought about by institutional life
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may lead to difficulties
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Elderly people are susceptible to
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society’s stereotypes about nursing homes
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Institutionalism
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-a psychological state in which people develop apathy, indifference, and a lack of caring about themselves. -Institutionalism is brought about, in part, by a sense of learned helplessness
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learned helplessness
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a belief that one has no control over one’s environment.
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Sense of helplessness brought about by institutionalism
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can literally have deadly consequences
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People who were well-off in young adulthood
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remain so in late adulthood
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Those who were poor
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remain poor in late adulthood
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10 percent of people age 65 and older live
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in poverty (a proportion that is quite close to that for people less than age 65. )
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women are almost twice as likely as men
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to be living in poverty
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Racial and marital variables related to poverty
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-8 percent of whites in late adulthood live below the poverty level -19 percent of Hispanics and 24 percent of African Americans live in poverty -Divorced black women aged 65 to 74 have a poverty rate of 47 percent
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Financial Vulnerability in Older Adulthood
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-Reliance on a fixed income for support –Social Security benefits –Pensions and savings rarely keep up with inflation -Rising cost of health care
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The Cost of Staying Well
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-Elderly face rising health costs -Average older person spends 20 percent of his or her income on health care costs -Nursing home care averages $80,000 year
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Typical retirement age is moving
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downward to age 60
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Social Security and pensions allow people
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to retire earlier
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A disincentive is built into Social Security by having workers
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taxed at higher rates on both Social Security and earnings.
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Many people continue to work full- or part-time
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for some part of late adulthood
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Mandatory retirement is illegal (since the 1970s
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with the exception of certain public safety jobs such as police, firefighters, prison guards, and pilots
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The retirement decision is based on a number of factors.
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-Workers may be burned out after working all their lives. -Jobs can be frustrating and tension-filled. -Health may decline. -Incentives are offered by their company to retire early. -Desire to travel and see more of family.
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Age discrimination
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is a real mothereffing thing
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Some employers
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-Encourage older workers to leave their jobs in order to replace them with younger employees whose salaries will be considerably lower -Believe older workers are not up to demands of the job or are less willing to adapt to a changing workplace
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Legislation that was passed in the late 1970s, in which
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mandatory retirement ages were made illegal in almost every profession
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Market forces may help reduce its severity
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As baby boomers retire and the workforce drastically shrinks, companies may begin to offer incentives to older adults to either remain in the workforce or to return to it after they have retired.
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Retirement Stages: Atchley and Barusch Honeymoon Disenchantment Reorientation Retirement routines Termination
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-According to Atchley, people pass through stages in the process of retirement. -Not everyone passes through each stage and the sequence is not universal.
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honeymoon period
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former workers engage in a variety of activities, such as travel, that were previously hindered by full-time work
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Disenchantment
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may occur when retirees conclude that retirement is not all they thought it would be.
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Reorientation
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stage where retirees reconsider their options and become engaged in new, more fulfilling activities.
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retirement routine
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occurs when retirees come to grips with the realities of retirement and feel fulfilled in this new phase of life
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termination
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where the retiree either goes back to work or health deteriorates so badly that the person can no longer function independently
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Planning for—and living—a good retirement
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-Plan ahead financially -Consider tapering off from work gradually -Explore interests before retirement -If you are married or in a long-term partnership, spend some time discussing views of ideal retirement with partner -Consider where you want to live -Determine advantages and disadvantages of downsizing your current home. -Plan to volunteer your time
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It’s a man’s world
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at least when it comes to marriage after the age of 65.
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The proportion of men who are
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married is far greater than that of women
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One reason for this disparity is that
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70 percent of women outlive their husbands by at least a few years.
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Because there are fewer men available (many have died
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these women are unlikely to remarry
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Stress of retirement or old age may change relationship
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-At least 2 percent of divorces in the U. S. involve women over 60 years of age -Husband may be abusive or alcoholic -Husband may find a younger woman
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Divorce is harder on women than men
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5 percent of the elderly never married and late adulthood brings fewer changes to their lives
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Refashioned Relationships
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-Couples spend more time together. -Provides an opportunity for sharing household chores. -Men become more affiliative and less competitive and women become more assertive and autonomous. -Shifts in health mean that in late adulthood men and women may have to care for an ill spouse. -May provide closeness and a sense of fulfillment. -The caregiver may not be in good health either. -In most cases, the caregiver is the wife.
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Caring for an Aging Spouse : Wide variety of reactions
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-Feel great frustration and even despair -View caring for an ailing and dying spouse in more positive light, regarding it in part as a final opportunity to demonstrate love and devotion -Feel quite satisfied as a result of fulfilling what they see as their responsibility to their spouse -Find initial experience emotionally distressful but distress declines as they successfully adapt to stress of care giving
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In most cases, caregiver is wife
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-Just under three-quarters of people who provide care to a spouse are women. -Part of the reason is demographic: Men tend to die earlier than women, and consequently they contract the diseases leading to death earlier than women. -A second reason, though, relates to society’s traditional gender roles, which view women as “natural” caregivers. As a consequence, health care providers may be more likely to suggest that a wife care for her husband than that a husband care for his wife.
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Death of Spouse
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*Few events are more painful than death of spouse* -No longer part of a couple -Must deal with profound grief -No one to share life with and social life often changes -Economic changes often occur
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Friends and family play an important role in the social activity of the elderly.
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-Elderly people enjoy friends as much as younger people do, and friendships play an important role in the lives of those in late adulthood. -Time spent with friends is often valued more highly during late adulthood than time spent with family, and friends are often seen as more important providers of support than family members. -Around a third of older persons report that they made a new friend within the past year, and many older adults engage in significant interaction.
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Family Relationships
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-Siblings, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren provide an important source of comfort to adults in last years of their lives –Siblings are important because of shared life –Children often most important
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Developmental Stake
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-Bonds between parents and children are sometimes asymmetrical, with parents seeking a closer relationship and children a more distant one -Parents see their children as perpetuating their beliefs, values, and standards -Children may turn to their elderly parents for advice, information, and monetary help –Most parents and children remain close. –75 percent of children live within a 30-mile drive to their parents. –Daughters tend to be in more frequent contact than sons. –Mothers tend to be the recipient of communication more than fathers.
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Grandparents
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-Not all grandparents are equally involved with their grandchildren -Gender differences in behaviors and reactions of grandparents and grandchildren -Ethnic differences in grandparenting
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Grandmothers tend to be more involved with their grandchildren than grandfathers; similarly, there are gender differences in the feelings grandchildren have toward their grandparents.
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-Most young adult grandchildren feel closer to their grandmothers than to their grandfathers. -Most express a preference for their maternal grandmothers over their paternal grandmothers
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African American grandparents tend to be more involved with their grandchildren than white grandparents, and African American grandchildren often feel closer to their grandparents.
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-Moreover, grandfathers seem to play a more central role in the lives of African American children than in the lives of white children. -The reason for these racial differences probably stems in large measure from the higher proportion of multigenerational families among African Americans than among whites. In such families, grandparents usually play a central role in childrearing
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Great-grandparents
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-Play less of a role in the lives of both white and African American grandchildren -Close relationships tend to occur only when the great-grandparents and great-grandchildren live relatively near one another
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Why aren’t great-grandparents close with their great-grandchildren?
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–One reason is that by the time they reach great-grandparenthood, elderly adults are so old that they do not have much physical or psychological energy to expend on forming relationships with their great-grandchildren. –Another is that there may be so many great-grandchildren that great-grandparents do not feel strong emotional ties to them. –It is not uncommon for a great-grandparent who has had a large number of children to have so many great-grandchildren that they are difficult to keep track of. –Even though most great-grandparents may not have close relationships with their great-grandchildren, they still profit emotionally from the mere fact that they have great-grandchildren
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Friendships in late adulthood
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-Allow older adults more control about whom to include in a friendship -May be more flexible -Relate to increasing likelihood, over time, that one will be without marital partner —-Because late adulthood may bring with it a gradual loss of control in other areas, such as in one’s health, the ability to maintain friendships may take on more importance than in other stages of life.—-
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Social support
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*Assistance and comfort supplied by another person or a network of caring, interested people* –Important for successful aging –Sympathy and empathy –Can help furnish material support such as solve problems, give a ride, or fix broken things –Dogs can be especially good at providing social support
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Social Support: Benefits for recipient
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-Sympathetic ear and sounding board for one’s concerns -Unmatched degree of understanding and a pool of helpful suggestions from like other -Material support
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Social Support: Benefits for provider
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Experience feelings of usefulness and heightened self-esteem
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Physical or psychological mistreatment or neglect of elderly individuals (Elder Abuse)
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-May affect as many as 11 percent of elderly -Often stems from economic, psychological, and social pressures on caregivers who must provide high levels of care 24 hours a day -Is most frequently committed by family member
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What is death?
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-Defining the point at which life ceases is surprisingly complex. -Difficulty in establishing legal and medical definitions of death may reflect changes in understanding and attitudes that occur over the course of people’s lives.
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Functional death:
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-absence of heartbeat and breathing. -Although this definition seems unambiguous, it is not completely straightforward.
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Brain death
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all signs of brain activity, as measured by electrical brain waves, have ceased.
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Legal definition of death in most localities in the United States relies
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-on the absence of brain functioning, although some laws still include a definition relating to the absence of respiration and heartbeat. –The difficulty in establishing legal and medical definitions of death may reflect some of the changes in understanding and attitudes about death that occur over the course of people’s lives.
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Death across the Life Span: infancy and childhood
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-Miscarriage -Still birth -Sudden infant death (SIDS) -Accidents -Homicides
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Childhood deaths
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-Although the rate has declined since the mid-1960s, the United States ranks behind 35 other countries in the proportion of infants who die during the first year of life. —During childhood, the most frequent cause of death is accidents, most of them due to motor vehicle crashes, fires, and drowning. —However, a substantial number of children in the United States are victims of homicides, which have nearly tripled in number since 1960. —By the early 1990s, death by homicide had become the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 9
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Parent reactions to child death
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-Death of a child produces the most profound sense of loss and grief. In fact, there is no worse death in the eyes of most parents, including the loss of a spouse or of one’s own parents. -Parents’ extreme reaction is partly based on the sense that the natural order of the world, in which children “should” outlive their parents, has somehow collapsed.
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More parent reactions to child death
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-Their reaction is often coupled with the feeling that it is their primary responsibility to protect their children from any harm, and they may feel that they have failed in this task when a child dies -Parents are almost never well equipped to deal with the death of a child, and they may obsessively ask themselves afterward, over and over, why the death occurred. Because the bond between children and parents is so strong, parents sometimes feel that a part of themselves has died as well. -The stress is so profound that the loss of a child significantly increases the chances of admission to a hospital for a mental disorder.
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How kids see death
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-No concept of death until around the age of 5 —–Although they are well aware of death before that time, they are apt to think of it as a temporary state that involves a reduction in living, rather than a cessation. ——For children who believe this, death is not particularly fearsome; rather, it is something of a curiosity. If people merely tried hard enough, by administering medicine, providing food, or using magic, dead people might “return” -Around the age of 5, better understanding of finality and irreversibility of death -By about age 9, acceptance of universality and finality of death -By middle childhood, understanding of some customs involved with death (e.g., funerals, cremation, and cemeteries)
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Child death stats
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-Motor-vehicle accidents, child abuse and beatings, and pedestrian injuries are the leading causes of trauma-related deaths among preschool children -According to reports from the National Pediatric Trauma Registry: *Car accidents accounted for about 30 percent of the deaths*, *child abuse and beatings totaled 21 percent* and *pedestrian injuries, caused, for instance, by a child running into a street and being struck by a car, reached 18 percent*
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Death across the Life Span: Adolescent reactions
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-View of death are often unrealistic -Adolescents’ views of death may be highly romanticized and dramatic -Sense of invincibility -Personal fable -Imaginary audience
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Personal fable:
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a set of beliefs that causes them to feel unique and special—so special, in fact, that they may believe they are invulnerable and that the bad things that happen to other people won’t happen to them.
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Adolescence: Terminal Illness
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-Denial -Depression
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Adolescent death stats
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-Most frequent cause of death among adolescents is accidents, most often involving motor vehicles. -Other frequent causes include homicide, suicide, cancer, and AIDS
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Death across the Life Span: Young Adulthood reactions
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-Prime time of life -Death seems unthinkable -Creates feelings of anger and impatience
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Young adulthood concerns
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-Desire to develop intimate relationships and express sexuality -Future planning
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Young adulthood death stats
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-Leading cause of death continues to be accidents, followed by suicide, homicide, AIDS, and cancer. -By the end of early adulthood, however, disease becomes a more prevalent cause of death. -Young adults who have a terminal illness face additional burdens.
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Death across the Life Span: Middle adulthood reactions
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-Life-threatening disease not surprising -Fear of death often greatest —These fears may lead people to look at life in terms of the number of years they have remaining as opposed to their earlier orientation toward the number of years they have already lived.
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Middle adulthood death causes
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Heart attack or stroke most frequent cause -Although the unexpectedness of such a death does not allow for preparation, in some ways it is easier than a slow and painful death from a disease such as cancer.
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Death across the Life Span: Late adulthood reactions
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-Realize death is imminent -Face an increasing number of deaths in their environment -Less anxious about dying
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Late adulthood death causes
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-Cancer, stroke, and heart disease -Terminal decline
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Terminal Decline
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a significant drop in performance in cognitive areas such as memory and reading may foreshadow death within the next few years.
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Differing Conceptions of Death
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-Reactions to death are diverse -Dependent on values that reflect cultural and subcultural beliefs -Often shared through religious beliefs -Differing conceptions of death lead to different rituals
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Death and religion
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–Some societies view death as a punishment or as a judgment about one’s contributions to the world. Others see death as redemption from an earthly life of travail. Some view death as the start of an eternal life, while others believe that there is no heaven or hell and that an earthly life is all there is. –Christian and Jewish 10-year-olds tended to view death from a more “scientific” vantage point (in terms of the cessation of physical activity in the body) than Sunni Moslem and Druze children of the same age, who are more likely to see death in spiritual terms. –For members of Native American tribes, death is seen as a continuation of life.
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Thanatologists
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-Study death and dying -Suggest that death education should be a component of everyone’s education
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Death education
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*encompasses programs that teach about death, dying, and grief* -Crisis intervention education -Routine death education -Education for members of the helping professions
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Death education benefits
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–Death education is designed to help people of all ages deal better with death and dying—both others’ deaths and their own personal mortality. –Most successful programs not only provide ways for providers to help patients deal with their own impending deaths and those of family members, but also allow students to explore their feelings about the topic
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Are there steps toward death?
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*Kubler-Ross* -Developed a theory of death and dying -Built on extensive interviews with people who were dying -Input from those who cared for them
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Kugler-Ross Steps towards death
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1.) Denial (Shock) 2.) Anger (Emotion 3.) Bargaining 4.) Depression 5.) Acceptance
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Pros to Kubler-Ross’s death
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-One of first people to observe systematically how people approach their own deaths -Increased public awareness and affected practices and policies related to dying
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Cons to Kugler-Ross’s death
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-Largely limited to those who are aware that they are dying -Less applicable to people who suffer from diseases in which the prognosis is uncertain -Stage-like increments questioned -Anxiety levels not included
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Edwin Shneidman (father of suicidology)
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-Themes” in people’s reactions to dying that occur—and recur—in any order throughout the dying process -phenomenological and hermeneutical perspective on suicide -draws on his unique combination of front-line experiences and extensive grasp of many diverse but relevant conceptual frameworks such as sociology, psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literature; his themes include such feelings and thoughts as incredulity, a sense of unfairness, fear of pain or even general terror, and fantasies of being rescued
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Charles Corr
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-People who are dying face a set of psychological tasks -Tasks include minimizing physical stress, maintaining the richness of life, continuing or deepening their relationships with other people, and fostering hope, often through spiritual searching.
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DNR: Issues
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-Differentiates “extreme” and “extraordinary” measures from those that are simply routine -Determines individual’s current quality of life and whether it will be improved or diminished by a particular medical intervention -Determines decision-maker role -For terminally ill patients, “DNR” may mean the difference between dying immediately or living additional days, months, or even years, kept alive only by the most extreme, invasive, and even painful medical procedures -DNR signifies that rather than administering any and every procedure that might possibly keep a patient alive, no extraordinary means are to be taken.
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Many terminally ill patients choose _________ as a way to avoid extraordinary medical interventions
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“DNR,” or “Do Not Resuscitate,”
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Organs are not viable after ______
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24 hours
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Doctors responding to DNR requests
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-Medical personnel are reluctant to suspend aggressive treatment. -Physicians often claim to be unaware of patients’ wishes -Physicians and other health care providers may be reluctant to act on DNR requests -Trained to save patients -Avoid legal liability issues
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Living will:
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legal document that designates the medical treatments a person does or does not want if the person cannot express his or her wishes.
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Some people designate a specific person called a ______ to act as their representative in making health care decisions.
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health proxy
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Health care proxies are authorized either in living wills or in a legal document known as
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durable power of attorney
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In assisted suicide, (Kevorkian)
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a person provides the means for a terminally ill individual to commit suicide. —-Assisted suicide, as we have seen, lies between passive and voluntary active euthanasia—-
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Euthanasia:
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: the practice of assisting terminally ill people to die more quickly. Popularly known as “mercy killing,” euthanasia can take a range of forms
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Passive euthanasia
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involves removing respirators or other medical equipment that may be sustaining a patient’s life, to allow them to die naturally. This happens when medical staff follow a DNR order, for example
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In voluntary active euthanasia
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caregivers or medical staff act to end a person’s life before death would normally occur, perhaps by administering a dose of pain medication that they know will be fatal.
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Do doctors have the right to fulfill euthanasia? PROS
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-Does the right belong solely to an individual, a person’s physicians, his or her dependents, the government, or some deity? -*In the United States, it is assumed that all have the absolute right to create lives by bringing children into the world, some people argue that we should also have the absolute right to end our lives.*
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Do doctors have the right to fulfill euthanasia? CONS
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-Practice is morally wrong. -Prematurely ending someone’s life, no matter how willing that person may be, is the equivalent of murder. -Physicians are often inaccurate in predicting how long a person’s life will last. -Emotional state of the patient may be unstable.
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Place of Death
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-Home care -Hospice care -Hospital care —In home care, dying people stay in their homes and receive treatment from their families and visiting medical staff. Many dying patients prefer home care, because they can spend their final days in a familiar environment, with people they love and a lifetime accumulation of treasures around them. —Hospice care is care for the dying provided in institutions devoted to those who are terminally ill; hospices are designed to provide a warm, supportive environment for the dying. They do not focus on extending people’s lives, but rather on making their final days pleasant and meaningful.
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Because an individual’s death represents an important transition, not only for loved ones but _____ the rites associated with death take on an added importance
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For an entire community
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Death is a big business in the U.S.
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-Average funeral and burial costs: $7,000 -Survivors are susceptible to suggestions to “provide the best” for deceased -Determined by social norms and customs -Funeral is not only a public acknowledgment that an individual has died, but recognition of everyone’s ultimate mortality and an acceptance of the cycle of life. -Funerals are grandiose in part because of the vulnerability of the survivors who typically make the arrangements.
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Cultural Differences in Grieving
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*Western societal rituals (some variations)* -Body preparation -Celebration of a religious rite, the delivery of a eulogy, a procession of some sort, and some formal period, which relatives and friends visit the mourning family and pay their respects. -Military customs typically include the firing of weapons and a flag draped over the coffin
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Non-western rituals different from western culture
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-Shave heads; let hair and beard grow -Noisy celebration; silence -High emotional display of emotion; no display of emotion
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*Feldman concludes that all funerals basically serve the same underlying function. *
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*They serve as a way to mark the endpoint for the life of the person who has died, and to provide a formal forum for the feelings of the survivors, a place where they can come together and share their grief and comfort one another.*
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Bereavement
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is acknowledgment of the objective fact that one has experienced a death.
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Grief
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emotional response to one’s loss
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Grieving in the Western World
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-1st stage: Grief typically entails shock, numbness, disbelief, or outright denial -2nd stage: People begin to confront the death and realize extent of their loss -3rd stage: People reach accommodation stage
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Escaping grieving process
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—Ultimately, most people are able to emerge from the grieving process and live new lives, independent from the person who has died. They form new relationships, and some even find that coping with the death has helped them to grow as individuals. They become more self-reliant and more appreciative of life.
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Consequences of Grief and Bereavement Negative
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-Widowed people are particularly at risk of death -More negative consequences if person is already insecure, anxious, or fearful, overly dependent, or lacking in social support -Sudden death
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Consequences of Grief and Bereavement Positive
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-Remarriage lowers risk of death for survivors, especially for widowers
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Death stats
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—Some studies find that the risk of death is as much as seven times higher than normal in the first year after the death of a spouse. At particular risk are men and younger women who have been widowed. —Those who were highly dependent on the person who died, and who therefore feel more vulnerable without them, are apt to suffer more after the death, as are those who spend a great deal of time reflecting on a loved one’s death and their feelings of grief. Bereaved people who lack social support from family, friends, or a connection to some other group, religious or otherwise, are more likely to experience feelings of loneliness, and therefore are more at risk. Finally, people who are unable to make sense of the death or find meaning in it (such as a new appreciation of life) show less overall adjustment.
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Differentiating Unhealthy Grief From Normal Grief
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After a death, people move through a painful period of bereavement and grief.
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_____ is more likely to produce depression or other negative consequences
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Bereavement -If person is already insecure, anxious, or fearful and therefore less able to cope effectively -If relationships marked by ambivalence before death -If person is highly dependent people
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When Grief Goes Awry
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-No particular timetable for grieving -For some people (but not all) grieving may take considerably longer than a year -Only 15 to 30 percent of people show relatively deep depression following loss of loved one -Those who show most intense distress immediately after a death are most apt to have adjustment difficulties and health problems later on
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Death of Long-term Spouse
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–Strength of relationship with can have effect on grieving process –Almost always a traumatic experience that is usually followed by intense grief and anguish –Risk of death can be seven times higher than normal in the first year after the death of a spouse, particularly for men and younger women
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Dealing with the death of a longterm spouse
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—Almost half of those who reported having satisfying marriages were able to get past their grief within six months of the death of their spouses. —People who enjoy close and happy marriages tend to have strong interpersonal skills on which to rely during their time of loss. They may be better equipped to call upon friends, family, and even a professional counselor if necessary to assist them through their grieving period. Surviving partners of strained marriages might feel more sadness over never having achieved a desired level of closeness, or they might regret not having an opportunity to resolve lingering conflicts, or they might feel guilty about not working harder to make their marriage better when they had the chance. —Surviving spouses who enjoyed a close marriage are more likely to have settled lingering issues and to have talked through what would happen after either of them died; they therefore are more likely to feel secure in knowing what their departed would have wanted for them in widowhood. Finally, spouses who have a close and secure relationship may simply have a better opportunity to say their final goodbyes as one of the partners’ heath fails.
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How helpful is grief counseling?
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-Meta-analysis of more than 60 studies of therapeutic interventions for bereaved people concluded that grief counseling did not help significantly more than the mere passage of time -Certain kinds of therapy have been shown to be helpful for at least some individuals
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Helping a child cope with grief
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-Being honest -Encouraging expressions of grief -Reassuring children that they are not to blame for the death -Understanding that children’s grief may surface in unanticipated ways -Understanding children may respond to books for young persons about death

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