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Ch 8 issues in aging

by: Maggie Kennedy

Ch 8 issues in aging COE 4713

Maggie Kennedy

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issues in aging
Issues in Aging
Lucy Wong
Class Notes
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Maggie Kennedy on Wednesday September 28, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to COE 4713 at Mississippi State University taught by Lucy Wong in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see Issues in Aging in Psychology at Mississippi State University.

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Date Created: 09/28/16
Issues in Aging CEO 4713 & 6713 – Fall 2016 Chapter 8 Social Theories of Aging Learning Objectives 1. Theoretical question of what is the optimal way for older adults to adapt to their functional capacity and social and physical environment. 2. Major social theories of aging. 3. Important factors related to aging ~ or age-related issues that serve as a guide for further inquiry and possible interventions in the aging process. 4. Different theoretical lenses through which to view and explain the phenomenon of aging. What is a theory? Development of Theories Applied to Aging  A theory is a based upon a hypothesis and backed by evidence. A theory presents a concept or idea that is testable.  Development of systematic attempt to explain why and how an age- related change event occurs.  Theory building is the accumulative development of explaining and understanding observations and findings --  which is the core foundation of scientific inquiry and knowledge.  Theorizing -- is a process of developing ideas that allow us to understand and explain empirical observations.  The term theory is used in many ways to describe interpretations of ideas or observations. The early social gerontological theories focused on: The justification for using theories ­­ that provide an anchor for thinking & guidelines for  examining data. 1. Consequences of role loss -- within family & community 2. What people should do as they age -- Active or not active at all 3. Adjustment to aging -- Psychological & physical 4. Activities -- What to do, when, how & where… Theories applied to Aging  Latest social theories are distinguished by a shift from:  A focus on the individual to structural factors (e. i. societal institutions & interactive processes that affect aging, and –  Based largely in quantitative methods ~ in the positivists scientific tradition of seeking to understand “objective” reality – shifting to a range of more qualitative methodologies -- to understand individual interpretations and meanings of age- related changes…. The Importance of Social Theories of Aging Social Gerontological Theory before 1961  Role Theory and Activity Theory The First Transformation of Theory  Disengagement Theory, Gerotranscendence Theory, & Continuity Theory Alternative Theoretical Perspectives  Symbolic Interactionism & Subculture of Aging, Labeling Theory, Age Stratification Theory, Social Exchange Theory, Political Economy of Aging, Life Course Perspective, Life Course Social Capital The Second Transformation of Theory  Phenomenology and Constructivism, Critical Theory and Feminist Perspectives Role Theory  Earliest attempt to explain how individuals adjust to aging -- and/or the process of aging  Based on the belief that roles define us and also our self-concept -- and shape our behavior  Age norms define the roles that people play -- based on their chronological age (acting your age ~~ more acceptable by society)  Every society conveys age norms through socialization –  Individuals learn to perform new roles & adjust to changing roles (social clock) – like grand-parenting 2  Giving up driving (due to age or illness) Activity Theory  Describes the psychosocial aging process -- Based on the hypotheses that:  1. Active older adults are more satisfied and better adjusted than those who are not active, and …  2. An older adult’s self-concept is validated through participation in roles characteristic of middle & old age -- and  3. older adults should therefore -- replace lost roles with new ones to maintain their place in society (within their age- group).  Critique: Theory fails in taking into consideration the impact of personality, social class, lifestyle, health and economic inequalities (more important) on life satisfaction and well-being (quality of life).  Activity theory emphasizes the importance of ongoing social activity involvement.  It suggests that a person's self-concept is related to the roles held by that person -- o i.e. retiring may not be so harmful to some -- if the person actively maintains other roles -- such as familial roles, recreational roles, volunteer & community roles.  To maintain a positive sense of self -- the person must substitute new roles for those that are lost because of age. o And studies show that the type of activity does matter, just as it does with younger people. The Activity Theory makes the following certain assumptions:  There is an abrupt beginning of old age.  The process of aging leaves people alone & cut-off from family & society.  People should be encouraged to remain active & develop own-age friends.  Standards & expectations of middle age should be projected to older age.  Aging adults should be encouraged to expand & be involved. First Transformational Theory: Disengagement Theory 3  Based on hypothesis that -- older adults because of inevitable decline with age --  become decreasingly active with the outer world -- and  increasingly preoccupied with their inner lives;  disengagement is useful for society’s view because it fosters an orderly transfer of power from older to younger people.  It assumes that older adults must be actively engaged in order to be well-adjusted…  Disengagement theory is now widely discounted by gerontologists.  Refers to an inevitable process in which -- many of the relationships between an older adult and other members of society are severed & those remaining are altered in quality.  Withdrawal may be initiated by the aging person or by society, and may be partial or total.  A research-based suggestion is that -- older people are less involved with life events than when they were younger adults.  As people age they experience greater distance from society & they develop new types of relationships with society issues.  In American society -- there is evidence that society forces withdrawal on older people even if they do not want it.  Some suggest -- that this theory does not consider the large number of older people who do not withdraw from society.  Disengament theory is recognized as -- the 1 formal theory that attempted to explain the process of growing older. Gero-transcendence Theory  Parallels disengagement theory – attempting to explain the phenomenon of normal aging  Places focus on inner self as positive characteristic of old age –  represents a shift in the older adult’s perspective from a materialistic, rational view of the world -- to a more transcendent one --  Older adults explore their inner selves, are less interested in materials goods, more selective with meaningful relationships.  Complemented by increase in life satisfaction  Values contemplation & reflection about life experiences Continuity Theory 4  Challenges both Activity & Disengagement theories  Continuity theory is based on the hypothesis that -- central personality characteristics become more pronounced with age -- or are retained through life with little change –  people age successfully if they maintain their preferred roles and adaptation techniques throughout life.  This theory demonstrates that individuals tends to maintain a consistent pattern of behavior as they age --  Adapt to role-change … and  Keep typical ways of adapting to the environment/society norms  States that older adults try to preserve & maintain internal & external structures by using strategies that maintain continuity.  Meaning that older people may seek to use familiar strategies in familiar areas of life.  In later life -- adults tend to use continuity as an adaptive strategy to deal with changes -- that occur during normal aging.  Continuity theory has the potential for explaining how people adapt to their own aging.  Changes come about as a result of the aging person's reflecting upon past experience & setting goals for the future. Symbolic Interactionism  Consistent with the person-environment perspective model  A theoretical perspective based on the belief that -- the interactions of such factors as the environment, individuals & society --  can significantly affect one’s behavior and thoughts, including the aging process   Assumes that friendly and hostile environments -- may or may not -- accommodate the individual within the environment. Age Stratification Theory  Age Stratification Theory 5  Theoretical perspective based on belief that --societal age structure affects roles, self-concept, and life satisfaction  Societies are stratified (put people into categories) to distinguish class, gender and race and --  According to age: young, middle-age, and old  Structural lag is a concept emerged from the Age Stratification perspective and --  occurs when social structures cannot keep pace with population (demographic) changes.  Ex. Society is not prepared for the increase in life expectancy. Social Exchange Theory It is based on the hypothesis that -- personal status is defined by the balance between people’s contributions to society and the costs of supporting them.  Challenges Activity & Disengagement theories  Draws on economic cost-benefit models of social participation  Argues where society should place economic resources $$$  Challenges the responsibility of Social Security Insurance and the family Labeling Theory: symbolic interactionism  A theoretical perspective derived from symbolic interactionism –  premised on the belief that people derive their self-concepts from interacting with others –  in their social surroundings -- in how others define us and react to us  Interactions between individuals and their environment affect people’s experience of the aging process and themselves and the aging process. Labeling Theory  Social Exchange Theory  Based on the hypothesis that -- personal status is defined by the balance between people’s contributions to society and the costs of supporting them. 6 Political Economy of Aging  A theory based on the hypothesis that –  social class determines a person’s access to resources (SSA) --  that dominant groups within society try to sustain their own interests by perpetuating class inequalities  Allocation of funds for programs for the elderly  Access to these programs and population numbers predicts the dollar amounts allocated $$$ Life-Course Perspective  Based on Erikson's Theory on developmental stages – and approaches maturity (aging) as a process.  Gerativity vs. Stagnation  Within each stage -- the person faces a crisis or dilemma that the person must resolve to move forward to the next stage (generativity) -- or not resolve which results in incomplete development (stagnation). Assumptions:  Aging occurs from birth to end-of-life.  Aging involves biological, psychological & sociological processes.  Experiences during aging are shaped by historical factors.  Life Course Perspective  Multidisciplinary view of human development that focuses on changes with age and life experiences  Life Course Capital  Expansion of life course perspective that addresses impact of differential acquisition of resources among different members of a cohort 4 Principles of Life-course Theory 1. Historical time and place (e.g. social context & cohort effect) 2. Timing lives (life expectancy and life span) 3. Linked lives (intergenerational transmission & shared experiences) 4. Human agency (the individual to make choices (autonomy) 7 Developments in Social Gerontology Theory: The 2nd Transformation  Social Phenomenology/Social Constructivism & Social Constructionism  A point of view in studying social life -- that places an emphasis on the assumptions and meanings of experience  rather than the “objective” facts -- with a focus on understanding rather than explaining  Social phenomenology – interpretive approach to knowledge and focuses on understanding the human meanings of social life – everyday life -- rather than explanation of facts.  Social constructionism – refers to the structural development of phenomena relative to social relative to social contexts (social construct). Ex: refers to how aging is defined as a problem more by culture & society than by biology  Social constructivism – refers to an individual’s making meaning of knowledge within the social context (psychological construct). Ex: refers to how individuals experience and make meaning of the aging process. Critical Theory  Critiques the biomedical model of aging & examines structural and institutional factors that create disparities in the aging experience.  Perspective that genuine knowledge is based on involvement of the “objects” of study in its definition and –-  results in a positive vision of how things might be better rather than an understanding of how things are. Feminist Perspectives 8  Guided by social constructivism and constructionism & critical gerontology. (experiential learning through real life experience & when people are  actively involved)  Differs by making women’s issue central to the discourse  Feminist perspective -- view that the experiences of women are often ignored -- in understanding the human condition -- together with efforts to attend critically to those experiences  Women should be added to research samples, models & theories  Feminists theorists examine -- the intersecting inequalities of gender with race, social class, sexual orientation and disability are examined by the feminist theorists. Postmodern Theories of Aging  Post-modernists theory – contends that knowledge is socially constructed and social life highly improvisational.  All forms of meaning and knowledge are not to be taken for granted.  Emphasizes cultural interactions of the complex aging body -- and social context in shaping “lived experience” across the life course  Addresses biotechnology (anti-aging) and reconstruction of aging bodies -- to reinvent aging with biomedical/information technology Themes of the Postmodern Movement by Powell:  Objective truth is unlikely or impossible;  truth is variable, depending on the situation and circumstances.  Decentralized power and authority are preferable to centrally held power –  especially at the federal government ($$$) level.  Reality and truth should be questioned.  Individual choice dominates postmodern society –  which focuses on individual consumption of goods and services.  [Review textbook Glossary of terms pages 333 & 334] Summary & Implications for the Future 9  The theoretical perspective has highlighted the multiplicity of lenses to understand the aging process.  Theories vary widely in their emphasis on:  individual adjustment to age-related changes,  their attention to social structure,  power, economic conditions, and life-course inequities,  the methodology utilized & their reflective nature on the meaning of the aging experience.  Gerontology research must take into account -- both individual and macro-level changes encompassing:  the role of gender, race, class, sexual orientation and functional ability – allowing the dynamic nature and meaning of the aging experience. What are the conclusions of all these Theories of Aging?  That none of the theories proposed can claim -- sufficient evidence to account for the aging effects that are witnessed & experienced in humans.  We cannot stop aging and do not know why we age. We know the environment has an impact on aging.  We do know that longevity has increased and by that the possibility that the aging process has slowed.  As molecules, cells and organ systems continue to live, they continue to change.  The common theme in all the theories is: Change and Adaptation. ******* 10


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