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Transcript of PSY-369
Elderly Across Cultures
As people age they usually reach a point where they need assistance with the tasks of daily living.
This can often be difficult for the elderly person in terms of adjustment and also equally difficult for any person who has the responsibility of providing the care or arranging for it to be provided by others.
When an elderly parent reaches the point of requiring assistance the critical time usually occurs if they are left alone, having been widowed through the loss of a partner.
Gradually things begin to occur that indicate the need for greater care and support than they are able to provide for themselves.
And the time comes.........
Once the situation reaches a point where the elderly person requires assistance then there are many options to consider and choices to be made.
In the case of medical care the following services may be pertinent:
•home health care
•personal care such as bathing, grooming and toileting
•house calls or visiting a local doctor
In the case of non-medical care then the relevant factors may include:
•home care maintenance
•transport for shopping or other purposes
Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the little old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of the wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.
-Silverstein, 1981, “The Little Boy and the Old Man”
Collectivist cultures (e.g., East Asia) view the self as embedded in the group, place greater emphasis on achieving group goals, and guide their social behavior by norms and duties.
On the other hand, individualist cultures (e.g., Western Europe, United States) view the self as autonomous, place greater emphasis on achieving individual goals, and guide their social behavior by personal attitudes.
Pity may look benign on its surface, but it can create a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy. Practitioners have discovered that the linguistic expression of pity and sympathy by doctors and other geriatric specialists conveys the idea that elderly people are helpless.
The elderly stereotype is widespread and resistant to change, and it is costly. The evaluatively-mixed nature of the elderly stereotype (warm and incompetent) leads to an evaluatively-mixed pattern of prejudice; people feel both pity and admiration toward elderly people. Moreover, contrary to lay beliefs, the elderly stereotype extends not only beyond the United States, but also beyond individualist cultures in general; evaluatively-mixed stereotypes of elderly people are pan-cultural.
Important Points to Consider
Social exclusion hurts elderly people not only by limiting their access to vital emotional and physical resources; it also leads to innumerable negative health outcomes.
For example, social exclusion causes people to engage in unintentionally self-defeating behaviors, such as irrational risk-taking, unhealthy behaviors, and excessive procrastination.
Social isolation predicts numerous health problems, such as re-hospitalization in older veterans, morbidity and mortality from cancer and cardiovascular disease, and myriad adverse mental health consequences.
Moreover, excluding older people precludes the kind of intergenerational contact that could curtail ageist thinking and behavior.
Both of these types of care can be provided in the elderly person's own residence. This is usually the best option, if at all possible, as the elder will feel relatively comfortable with support in familiar surroundings.
Often the care programs that are put in place necessitate a mix of professional services and the support of family and friends. This mix of support services requires constant evaluation as the demands on the family and friends may become too arduous. When this happens there may be unfortunate consequences for those involved, such as health issues and problems with family dynamics.
If the elderly person cannot have their needs met within their own home then a transfer to a supported living environment may be required.
Planning ahead is therefore an important element and this needs to be accompanied by good communication between family members and the elderly person. Elders often have good insights into what their needs are and may have strong preferences that need to be taken into account.
In 2000, the worldwide population of persons aged >65 years was an estimated 420 million, a 9.5 million increase from 1999. During 2000–2030, the worldwide population aged >65 years is projected to increase by approximately 550 million to 973 million. The largest increases in absolute numbers of older persons will occur in developing countries. During 2000–2030, the number of persons in developing countries aged >65 years is projected to almost triple, from approximately 249 million in 2000 to an estimated 690 million in 2030, and the developingcountries’ share of the world’s population aged >65 years is projected to increase from 59% to 71% .
In the United States, the proportion of the population aged>65 years is projected to increase from 12.4% in 2000 to19.6% in 2030. The number of persons aged >65 years is expected to increase from approximately 35 million in 2000 to an estimated 71 million in 2030. The number of persons aged >80 years is expected to increase from 9.3 million in 2000 to 19.5 million in 2030.
The Reality of Life
Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 61, No. 2, 2005, pp. 267--285
This Old Stereotype: The Pervasiveness and Persistence of the Elderly Stereotype
Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology 13: 215–228, 1998.
Community attitudes toward living arrangements between the elderly and their adult children in Hong Kong© 1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Printed in the Netherlands