OlderAdults and Their Views on Aging
OlderAdults and Their Views on Aging
Differentpeople view old age in different perspectives. For example, someindividuals assume that old age comes memory loss, frequentillnesses, sexual inactivity, loss of capacity to drive, strugglewith depression and loneliness as well as challenges to pay bills. Onthe contrary, the optimists think that the elderly are free and canafford a lot of time to visit their families. Additionally, they alsoimagine old age incorporates enjoyment, having freedom and wisdom.However, older adults consider aging as a product of an individual’sbeliefs and attitude towards it.
Accordingto Levy, Slade, Murphy, and Gill (2012), older humans fall intogroups. The first category is composed of positive stereotypes whobelieve that advanced age gives satisfaction, wisdom andself-realization. These seniors make 44% of the aged population andtheir functioning level is very high. On the contrary, 56% of theelderly persons hold negative stereotype beliefs that seniorityinvolves becoming devalued, useless and despondent. Such people havelow chances of seeking medical services when they are sick. Consequently, they are vulnerable to early deaths, loss of physicalfunctioning, memory loss as well as suffer from depression andloneliness. Levy, Slade, Kunkel, and Kasl (2002) complement thefindings with an experiment that intended to test the negativity ofthe patients by passing both positive and negative words on a screenat a high speed. Individuals who tend to have pessimistic perceptionoften noted the off-putting words like “decrepit”. Further testsindicated that the individuals suffered from high limitcardiovascular stress, slower walking speeds and high probability ofdeclining to take medication that can extend their lives.
Conversely,Levy et al. (2002) discovered that the elderly persons with apositive attitude lived 7½ years more than their colleagues who havea negative mentality. Besides, the research claimed that older adultswho view life positively have a strong willpower to live thatinfluences their capacity to adjust well to living in the old age. The researchers note that positive stereotype at old age influencesthe elderly to reduce alcohol consumption, take balanced diets,exercise regularly, seek frequent medical examination and refrainfrom smoking among other habits that ay cripple their good health.Subsequently, individuals maintain higher physical functioning levelcompared to the negative stereotypes.
Inanother study, PEW Research Center (2009) found that the viewpoint ofthe elderly people towards old age differs significantly with theopinion of the middle-aged and the youths. For example, many youthshave viewed advanced life from a negative perspective but the agedclaim that they rarely experience negative stereotypes such as memoryloss, low libido, depression and loneliness and physical incapacity.On the same note, older adults dispute experiencing the benefits thatyouths think they have such as a lot of free time to attend to theirhobbies, extended breaks to spend with their family, capacity toparticipate in voluntary jobs and pleasure travelling as well asinitiating a new career.
Studiesalso show that optimistic older adults often feel younger as theyadvance in age. The PEW Research Center (2009) asserts that manyyoung adults between 19-30 years claim that they feel their age whileolder adults aged 65 and above claim, they feel about a decadeyounger than their real age. The clients can drive, liveindependently and can even take a flight of staircase.
Theolder adults also contend that old age begins at 68 years. However,young adults aged between 19-39 years claim that old age starts from60 years. The aging view among the older adults does vary dependingon the age gap. For instance, 6% of the older persons who are above65 years accept that old age begins at 60 years. On average, thestudy discovered that most male older adults think that old agestarts from 66 years while women stated 70 years as the average agewhen old age sets in (PEW Research Center, 2009).
Chen(2001) presents a unique perspective of the older adults towardsadvanced age. She claims that the aged with social access enhancedtheir sense of productivity and belonging that in turn decreasedtheir chances of feeling old. Unlike the youths who tag old age to agiven number, the research argues that older adults consider advancedage to be sicknesses and physical incapacity. Subsequently, theelderly people who were in good health condition argue that theyshould be excluded from the category of old people. The studyconcludes that the older people consider themselves fit toparticipate in social activities as long as the society can providethem with an opportunity to participate in the service provision.
Reichstadt,Sengupta, Depp, Palinkas, and Jeste (2010) found that the olderadults consider triumphant aging as combination of self-contentednessand self-acceptance on one side, and engagement with self-growth andlife on the other hand. Accordingly, the old adults view aging in apositive way as long as one can participate in social engagements aswell as productive lifestyles while following successful copingmethods.
Inconclusion, older adults believe that aging is a combination ofpersonal beliefs and social engagements that a person chooses. Thisimplies that old age does not begin from a specified age. Besides,one can have many years and yet be young in heart as long as he orshe feels physically healthy. Finally, studies indicate that olderadults can enhance their positivity towards life through engaging inboth social and physical activities in the society.
Chen,N. (2001).The meaning of aging. TheJournal of Extension,39(6).
LevyB.R, Slade M.D, Murphy T.E, & Gill T.M. (2012). Associationbetween positive age stereotypes and recovery from disability inolder persons. JAMA,308(19),1972-1973.doi:10.1001/jama.2012.14541.
Levy,B.R. Slade, M.D. Kunkel, S.R., & Kasl, S.V. (2002). Longevityincreased by positive self-perceptions of aging. Journalof Personality and Social Psychology, 83(2),261-270. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1241
Reichstadt,J., Sengupta, G., Depp, C. A., Palinkas, L. A., & Jeste, D. V.(2010). Older Adults’ Perspectives on Successful Aging: QualitativeInterviews. TheAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry : Official Journal of theAmerican Association for Geriatric Psychiatry,18(7),567–575.