Current Political Issues of the Older Adult

Essay by cassiejoeUniversity, Master'sA, May 2006

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As people age, they experience changes in mental ability, social relations, and social status. Aging poses challenges to a person's sense of self. These challenges result from social attitudes toward older people, physical decline, and loss of social roles. Social psychologists propose that people adapt well to aging through disengagement, activity, or continuity. The life course perspective proposes that development is a lifelong process. A person's individual life course development depends on their physical condition, intelligence, personality, coping styles, resources, gender, and the social world they live in. Life course researchers propose that three types of events shape a person's life: nonnormative or unplanned events; normative, history-graded events; and normative, age-graded events. Organic brain disorders (like AD), loneliness, alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide are potential problems in old age. Experiences such as illness, widowhood, and retirement can lead to social breakdown. The social reconstruction process gives the older person support to cope with these problems.

In class we discussed the physical decline which can be extrinsic or intrinsic. We tend to age physically because our cells that have been dividing since we were first fertilized, and can only divide so many times. According to the Hayflict limit, it is approximately 110-120 cells. Other things contribute to our bodies changing as we age such as the Pleiotropic genes, hormonal production and balance loss of the Thymus. The body system's musculoskeletal changes by losing muscle and bone mass (especially women). Exercise can reduce this loss. The Endocrine system makes the testosterone decline, and women begin facing menopause. There is a sensory loss where taste and smell decline variably, sight tear glands decline, slower muscles, cloudy lenses, and hearing loss.

Disease prevention and health promotion programs provide other ways to control illness in an aging society. Researchers describe three types of disease or...