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Ageism in Contemporary Society

1. In our book it states that ageism is the tendency to categorize and judge people solely on the basis of their chronological age. Ageism is like racism and sexism. The book also states that elderspeak is a condescending way to speak to older adults that resembles baby talk. The younger generation has a tendency to use elderspeak when they talk to an elderly person. The society uses agesim on a daily basis. For example if you seen an elderly person driving based on their age some people are already making remarks because they are driving slower than the speed limit. In the nursing home I hear elderspeak used everyday mostly with the young aides who are just coming out of high school. What can we do to limit the use of elderspeak? What can we do about ageism?

2. There are so many things that the elderly are doing in contemporary society in order to remain active and have a fulfilling life. One of these things is working. The textbook discusses on pages 537-538 the fact that, while some people are working over 65 because of financial reasons, others are working for the personal fulfillment they get from their job. The work may be paid, or volunteer. Unfortunately, ageism discourages volunteering in late adulthood, as well as fosters the idea that retirees will fall prey to the negative aspects of retirement. I see many positives to older people working, most of which are listed in the textbook, but also see some potential negatives.
What do you think about over-65s in the workforce (originally and after reading the text)? How much did ageism affect your original view? What are some ways that we can improve working and volunteer conditions for older Americans?

3. According to the textbook, "Many people are willing to spend a fortune to live longer. At least a dozen companies and hundreds of researchers are searching for the pill, the machine, or the genetic fix that will extend life. Some researchers believe governments should devote extensive resources to "hasten the defeat of aging" (De Grey & Rae, 2007, p. 7)." (p.510) Many people are attempting to live longer through genetic engineering, drug trials, calorie restriction, and unnecessary surgeries or procedures such as botox. Many of these attempts at prolonging life come years after a person should have tried to improve their life through safer means such as a healthier diet, and plenty of exercise.
Do you support people who put all their efforts into extending their life? Would you do the same as you near the end of life?

4. According to our book as we age, or brain not only becomes slower at responding but "is quantifiable in another way: It gets smaller" (pg. 513). This is crazy! I can't even think about how much our bodies change from birth until death. It seems we build our bodies up for 20 years, maintain our health and body physique, then as we reach our upper 60's we start to decompose. But, as we age, we begin to use different parts of our brains more, and some less. This is just a way of how we adapt to our body changing. Some parts become stronger, and other parts become weaker.
My question is do you think having an education helps our brains function better late in our life?

5. On page 552 of the text the author discusses friendships for people over 65 years old, only 4% have never been married, with the likelihood of experiencing more deaths (spouse, older family members, friends, etc.) I thought it would be more difficult for this age group to keep close friendships. The book states that research has found older adults need at least one close friend. As adults it seems harder to make friends then it did as a child, how do older adults accomplish this and what are the health benefits of maintaining close friendships as you age? Is there any negative benefits?

6. On p. 520 the author refers to a study that "found that regular physical exercise reduces the incidence of all forms of dementia by half (Marx 2005)" and another study that people who are obese in middle age are twice as likely to have dementia by their 70's, compared with people of normal weight (Whitmer et al., 2005). Throughout these 2 chapters the author emphasizes that the majority of older people are mentally alert, healthy and content. Considering the increase of obesity at younger and younger ages in the U.S. and the lack of physical exercise, what do you think will be the long-term ramifications as these people age?

Solution Preview

1. In our book it states that ageism is the tendency to categorize and judge people solely on the basis of their chronological age. Ageism is like racism and sexism. The book also states that elderspeak is a condescending way to speak to older adults that resembles baby talk. The younger generation has a tendency to use elderspeak when they talk to an elderly person. The society uses agesim on a daily basis. For example if you seen an elderly person driving based on their age some people are already making remarks because they are driving slower than the speed limit. In the nursing home I hear elderspeak used everyday mostly with the young aides who are just coming out of high school. What can we do to limit the use of elderspeak? What can we do about ageism?

A. Elderspeak is so common that in many cases, those that are using it and those being spoken to rarely notice when it is happening. It has become almost habit for some health care professionals. Those that are spoken to in that manner are often more aggressive because of the way they are spoken to. When elderspeak is used, it is often viewed as demeaning, mocking, and disingenuous (1). For those young people that are using elderspeak, it would be a good idea to pull them aside and explain exactly what they are doing. In most cases, they probably are not aware that they are doing anything that is inappropriate or often harmful to their patient.

To limit the use of elderspeak, it would be appropriate to have a training when new employees are hired explaining why this type of language is not spoken to those that are elderly and what the potential problems can be by using or speaking to them in this manner.

Why is ageism wrong? Ageism is an attitude or a way of looking at older people that can often cause stereotyping. It causes older people to be treated in demeaning ways. Some people act as though because the person is older or even "elderly" that they cannot do things as well, they are weak, disabled, they are less capable, or even less valued, when in fact, it is quite the opposite. An older person has had more experiences, skills, knowledge, has lived a full life, and probably is just as capable of doing things as others and should not have ageism used against them. The best way to change the perception of ageism is to teach people that work with and around older people. They need to understand that just because someone is "older", that it doesn't necessarily mean they are "elderly".

2. There are so many things that the elderly are doing in contemporary society in order to remain active and have a fulfilling life. One of these things is working. The textbook discusses on pages 537-538 the fact that, while some people are working over 65 because of financial reasons, others are working for the personal fulfillment they get from their job. The work may be paid, or volunteer. Unfortunately, ageism discourages volunteering in late adulthood, as well as fosters the idea that retirees will fall prey to the negative aspects of ...

Solution Summary

Discusses how elderspeak and ageism are similar, how society treats the elderly, research to slow down aging, how the brain ages, friendships in elderly, and the benefits of physical exercise as you age.

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