Older Adults, Aging, and Theory

OlderAdults, Aging, and Theory


HumanBehaviorBehaviour in the Environment I


OlderAdults, Aging, and Theory

Priorto the First Encounter

InAmerica, many older adults are living in assisted or nursing homes.According to Eric Erickson, old age stage starts at the age of 65.Erickson also associates old age with the virtue of wisdom. Forthis assignment, I visited the McGovern Park Senior Center to meetwith a senior citizen. McGovern Park Senior Center is where olderadults,adults aged 55 and above, gather to socialize, eat lunch, orwork out. Prior to the visit, I had read about older adults and theirrole in society. The goal of this visit is was to learn more aboutthe aged population and promote my personal or professional growth. Iintroduced to myself to Ruby D. Smith, 67year old67-year-old African American female.. I explained to Rubythat the purpose of this assignment was to gain insight about olderadults. Iadults. I also scheduled three appointments with Ruby.

Oneof the most challenging aspects of this assignment was initiatingconversationsa conversation with Ruby because I just met her, and Iwas not comfortable asking Ruby her questions.She was a total stranger. I was not sure if RubywouldRubywoulddisclose personal information to a stranger. Another challenge was toovercome my biases against older adults. Thisproject offered me was a chance for me to do research about olderadults and learn more. The third challenge that I had was to bepatient. According to Rioux(2005),old people are not as effervescent vibrant asyoung people are hence, to obtain reliable information from themrequires patience and perseverance.

Tosucceed with this project, I had to demonstrate my willingness tolearn. Although the assignment will take timewas to take some time, Ihave to bewas willing to learn how to communicate with older people,and understand their needs. In addition, I will havehad to pull myresources together to provide supportive services to the nursinghome, McGovern Park Senior Centerthe client.I also have had to use my communication skills effectively, as wellas my listening ability. For the last few years, my strongcommunications skills have had made me accomplish various projects.Therefore, since this assignment involves teamwork, I believed mycommunication and listening skills will would offer me an excellentopportunity to accomplish the task with much ease.

Themost rewarding aspect of this experience is was the wisdom that Ianticipated to gain. By the end of the this encounters, I have had nodoubts that I will havewould have gained a lot of wisdom from theseold men and women. In fact, it will be aI anticipated that it wouldbe a life-changing experience for me.SecondlyFurther, I was determined to learn anticipated will learn thechallenges that the older adults face every day. This will wouldmotivate me to look for remedies for their ailments. ThirdlyInaddition, I believed that the visit is was likely to increase mysense of purpose andselfand self-esteem. According to Rioux(2005),visiting the elderly distracts the visitor from his or her ownproblems. By the end of my visitation, I expected to appreciate myexperiences and achievements as a young person.

LastlyEventually,I have had to overcome my own biases and assumptions in order to makethis project successful. For instance, there are stereotypes thatolder adults are senile, crabby, socially isolatedisolated, andlonely. Therefore, to increase my knowledge of aging, I have had toeliminate these judgements about older people.

Afterthe First Encounter

Thefirst meeting took place at McGovern Park Senior Center. . Ruby andI exchanged some information about ourselves. Ruby grew up inMississippi, MSJackson, MS whereshe had spent her childhood picking cotton. After high school, shemoved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to search for a better life. She livedwith her brother R.W. Moore until she was financially stable. In1985, Ruby Shesecured a job as a nursing assistantatassistantatMilwaukee County Mental Health, a position she held for twenty-fiveyears until her retirement in 2010. She worked both as a full-timeand as a part- time certified nursing assistant in order to take careof her four children. She needed more money tocater for house rent, school fees for her children, food, clothing,and other needs. She is was proud to have made it to retirement agein good health. By the time she retired, Ruby was still healthy andstrong. For instance, she was still in a position to do her housechores without any assistance.

Rubyhass four children and one grandchild.Unfortunately, Ruby was a widow after her husband passed on fifteenyears ago in a road accident. Three of her children served in theUnited States military. The last-born is a fourth year student at theuniversity studying medicines. Since Ruby retirementd, her childrenare have been concerned that she is not as active and would like herto get out of the house more, volunteer, or travel. Consequently,they referred her to McGovern Park Senior Center.

Rubystated that she hads problems with her knees and is was planning tohave a knee replacement on September 16. Since this is was the firstmajor surgery Ruby will have had in her lifetime, she is was verynervous. She believeds the surgery will would enable her to continuedoing things she used to do, like going out, visiting McGovern SeniorCentre more, and spending more time with her nine years oldgranddaughter.

InMarch 2015, Ruby disclosed to me that she had beendiagnosedshe wasdiagnosed with a psychotic episode. According to Zaritand Zarit (2006),this condition makes a person break from reality and start hearing,seeing, and believing things that do not exist. Ruby thought thatsomeone was trying to kill her. After the diagnosis, Ruby wasadmitted to Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore, psychiatricfacility,forfacility,forabout two weeks. The facility has psychiatrists, psychologists, andpsychotherapists that are experienced to deal with anxiety,depression, and attention deficits hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),eating disorder, substance abuse, and family issues (Cabezaet. al., 2002).Since then, she has beenundergoingbeen undergoing therapy, and shevisits a psychiatrist every six months.

AsRuby discussed her life, I could not help but to listen how she grewup. I was extremely interested in listening to what she had to say.She smiled when talking about her life. I was notimpatientpatientsince I wanted to gather as much information from Ruby as possible.Before meeting her, I had not thought that Ruby would not share herpersonal life with me so freely. To my surprise, she was open andfriendly. After the visit, I noticed that myassumptionsmy assumptionsabout older adultshadadults had been wrong. I learned that I shouldnot have stereotyped older adults since they are diverse.Indiverse.In the senior centrecentre, I had seen elderly people working out,volunteering in the pantry, helping to prepare lunch, knitting,playing cards, and enjoying each other’s company.Mycompany. My goalis was to abandon my formerbiasesformer biases against olderpeopleandpeople and to acceptthataccept that each person is unique.

Afterthe Second Encounter

Thesecond encounter took place at orthopaedist’sofficeorthopaedist’soffice. Ruby is was scheduled to have knee surgery on September 16,2015. I observed that she had written a list of 30thirty questions toask the doctor about the surgery. She explained to the doctor thather knee was painful butshebut she was hesitant about having thesurgery. I spoke with her youngest son, Randy, who stated that Rubyhad wokenhimwokenwoke him up at midnight to talk about the surgery.She was very positive about the surgery.

Afterthis meeting, I changed my stereotypes about older adults. I hadthought that old people were stubborn when it comes to medication.Surprisingly, Ruby was more than willing to undergo the surgery. Ialso thought that elderly people were difficult. However, Ruby wasvery friendly. Although she was in pain, she made the effort to talkto me. Further, I learnt that I am patient with older adults. Indeed,I had an easy time with Ruby.

Iidentified several connections between the theory I had learned inclass and my observations. For instance, I learnt there mostsomeolder adults have conditions that interfere with their psychosocialwell-being they include . Mmental disorder, neuropsychiatricdisorder, neurological disorder, anxiety disorder, and substance useproblems are some oftheseconditionsthese conditions (Cabezaetal., 2002).The emotional well-being and mental health of theelderlypopulationelderly population is as important as it is in otherage groups. Research shows that approximately 15% of olderadultshaveadults have a mental disorder. About seven percent of olderadults haveaneuropsychiatrichaveneuropsychiatricdisorder such as depression ordementiaor dementia. According toCabezaetal. (2002),about four percent of the elderly have anxiety disorder and onepercent havehas a substance use problem. Unfortunately, substance useamong the elderly is usually overlooked or misdiagnosed (Zarit,2006).Substance abuse can lead to more severe problems like heart disease.

Afterthe Third Encounter

Formy third encounter, I connected the materials that I usedinused inclass to other materials that discuss older adults. Aging is aninevitable and multi-factorial processcharacterizedprocesscharacterized by progressive degeneration of tissues and body organs(Naleppa,2003).Some of the primary challenges of aging arecognitiveare cognitive,visual, and hearing. Aging results into incognitivein cognitivedecline.Cognitive challenges involve a greater tendency to distraction,reduced processing speed, and reduced working memory. Naleppa(Naleppa(2003) states that many older adults have trouble seeing and preferreading materials with high contrast. They also prefer audioinformation to written information. Similarly, they also have hearingimpairmentsandimpairments and they prefer a silent play environmentwith limited background noise. Normally, with they speak clearlyloudly with high volume and expect other people to do the same.

Erikson’stheory associates old age with ego integrity vs. despair(despair(Ford,2014).Some older adults reflect on their past with a feeling of integrity.Here, they consider their adulthood to have been full ofcontentment, a valuablevaluable, and meaningful.Inmeaningful. Incontrast, others reflect on their past with a sense of despair. Theyassociate their adulthood with failure. They struggle to amend theirlife and they fear death.

Inaddition, old people struggle with physicalinfirmitiesandinfirmitiesandpain. Studies show that adults over 65sixty-five years reportfatigue, poor appetite, sleeplessness, weight loss, headaches,dizziness, and constipation and diarrhoea (Ford,2014).They experience swelling and vague aches around the joints. Ruby hasa knee problem that requires surgery. They also experience footproblems such as fungus infections, ingrown toenails, or inability towalk. Besides, they lose the sense of taste and smell. To agreateragreater extent, old people are diagnosed with mental disorders.RubyhasRuby has been diagnosed with psychotic episode, a break fromreality. The older adult might also experience gradual memorydecline.

Afterthe Final Encounter

Thefinal encounter involves summarizing my experience and expounding onhow it will changemychange my thinking about the older adults. I havelearned that the elderly people need extra care to overcome theirchallenges. Rioux(2006) advocates for It is importantnce to communicate with them.Although communication with elderly can sometime be challenging,communication helps to overcome communication barriers between themand the young generation. Elderly people may have weaker voice, ormay have an inability to understand (Naleppa,2003).Therefore, it is critical to be patient when communicating to them,as well as know when to end a conversation. Communication maintainslove connection and improves the quality of life. Effective ways tocommunicate with older adults include showing them respect, thinkingbefore responding, listening to them, and developing an appropriatecommunication style. I have also learned it is also important toshare a meal and spend time with them.Spending some time with the old helps them to raise theirself-esteem, feel loved, and appreciated. In addition, privacy isessential when dressing, bathing, and taking care of an elderlyperson. However taking care of the older adult calls for much love,patience, and physical strength.At times, it can be depressing. Therefore,one should be prepared to face some challenges while handling anelderly person.

Infuture, I expect to work in a nursing home. Therefore, thisassignment has shown me what to expect. Besides, I learned much fromRuby. Prior to the visit, I had little knowledge of psychoticepisodes. After learning that Ruby had been diagnosed with thisdisorder, I become more interested in learning about it. I know thecauses, signs, symptoms, and treatment of psychotic episode. Inaddition, I have learnt more about other disorders that afflict olderpeople. I have also learnt more about my future career, as well aslearnt how it is like to work in my potential career. I developed aprofessional network as I explored career interests. I have alsogained valuable experience and new skills to build on my resume.Finally, from my visitation to McGovern Park Senior Center made mereceive sufficient credit for real life experience concerning elderlyadults within our society.


Cabeza,R., Anderson, N. D., Locantore, J. K., &amp McIntosh, A. R. (2002).Aging gracefully: Compensatory brain activity in high-performingolder adults.Neuroimage,&nbsp17(3),1394-1402.

Ford,M. E. (2014). Gerontological social work.&nbspGerontologicalSocial Work Practice: Issues, Challenges, and Potential,&nbsp36(3),141.

Naleppa,M. J. (2003). Gerontological social work.&nbspSocialWork and Health Care in an Aging Society: Education, Policy,Practice, and Research,97.

Rioux,L. (2005). The well-being of aging people living in their own homes.Journal of Environmental Psychology,&nbsp25(2),231-243.

Zarit,S. H., &amp Zarit, J. M. (2006).&nbspMentaldisorders in older adults: Fundamentals of assessment and treatment.New York. NY: Guilford.