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Late Adulthood: Psychosocial Development

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1 Late Adulthood: Psychosocial Development
Chapter Twenty-Five Late Adulthood: Psychosocial Development PowerPoints prepared by Cathie Robertson, Grossmont College

2 Theories of Late Adulthood
Three Types of Theories self theories stratification theories dynamic theories

3 Self Theories Based on premise that adults make choices, confront problems, and interpret reality to be themselves as fully as possible people begin to self-actualize, as Maslow described it each person ultimately depends on himself or herself

4 Integrity Versus Despair
Erikson’s eighth and final stage— Integrity vs. Despair older adults seek to integrate their unique experience with their vision of community Ideally, reality of death brings “life-affirming involvement” in present The more positively a person feels about him- or herself, the less depression or despair is felt

5 Identity Theory Identity Challenged in Late Adulthood
as health, appearance, employment, crumble Two Extremes of Coping identity assimilation—new experiences incorporated into stable sense of identity distortion of reality and denial anything major changed identity accommodation—altering self-concept to adapt to new experiences viewed as an over-adjustment

6 Selective Optimization
Older person chooses to cope with physical and cognitive losses Older person makes selective changes to cope with losses This readiness to make changes is a measure of strength of the self

7 Support From Behavioral Genetics
Behavioral genetics support self theories twin studies: some inherited traits more apparent in later adulthood Power of genetics extends beyond the environments we seek even self-concept, including assessment of abilities, partly genetic but environment always plays major role

8 Stratification Theories
Social forces limit individual choice and direct life at every stage, especially late adulthood

9 Stratification By Age Disengagement Theory vs. Activity Theory
Disengagement theory—aging increasingly narrows one’s social sphere, resulting in role relinquishment, withdrawal, passivity Activity theory—elderly people need to remain active in a variety of social spheres—with relatives, friends, and community groups. If elderly withdraw, they do so unwillingly due to ageism dominant view now supports activity theory

10 Stratification by Gender and Ethnicity
Sexual Discrimination Feminist theory draws attention to gender divisions demographics make aging women’s issue because most social structures and economic policies have been established by men, women’s perspectives and needs not always given a high priority, or even recognized

11 Stratification By Gender and Ethnicity, cont.
Many older women impoverished because of male-centered economic policies pension plans based on continuous employment; more unlikely to be situation for women with children medical insurance pays more for acute illness (more common in men) and less for chronic disease (more common in women) women more likely to be caregivers for frail relatives, often sacrificing their independence and well-being

12 Stratification By Gender and Ethnicity, cont.
Critical race theory views ethnicity and race as social constructs whose usefulness is determined by one’s society or social system Ethnic discrimination and racism cause stratification, shaping experiences of both minorities and majorities minority elderly more likely to be poor and frail less access to senior-citizen centers, clinics, etc.

13 Better Female, Non-European, and Old?
Positive Effects of Non-European American’s Strong Familism: fewer elderly in nursing homes elderly feel more respected elderly feel more appreciated by families in one study, minority women outlived majority women who were economically better off but had less family support

14 Better Female, Non-European, and Old?, cont.
Current stratification effects may not apply to cohort shift happening now more women are working younger African-Americans less strongly tied to church and family and have fewer children To better understand stratification theory, we need to take a multicultural perspective

15 Dynamic Theories Dynamic theories—emphasize change and readjustment rather than either the ongoing self or legacy of stratification Continuity theory—each person experiences changes of late adulthood and behaves towards others in much the same way as he or she did earlier in life adaptive change dynamic response

16 Keeping Active Reality of older people’s lives does not correspond exactly with either disengagement or activity theories

17 Chosen Activities Employment has many advantages, but it is not typically something person has a choice about doing One positive aspect of retirement: allows freedom to be one’s own person—to choose one’s main activities e.g., in areas of education, helping others, religion, politics

18 Continuing Education Elderhostel—program in which people aged 55 and older live on college campuses and take special classes usually during college vacation periods Around the world, thousands of learning programs filled with retirees Many elderly hesitate to take classes with mostly younger students if they overcome this fear, typically find they earn excellent grades

19 Volunteer Work Higher percent of elderly adults have strong commitment to their community and believe they should be of service older adults especially likely to volunteer to assist the young, very old, or sick 40 percent of the elderly are involved in structured volunteering many of the other 60 percent volunteer informally elderly benefit, but not if forced to volunteer

20 Religious Involvement
Religious faith increases with age increase in prayer and religious practice Research shows religious institutions are particularly important to older Americans who may feel alienated from overall society

21 Political Activism Elderly more so than any other age group
Know more about national and local issues Political participation translates into power ARRP—major organization representing elderly, is largest U.S. special interest group Most elderly are interested in wider social concerns—e.g., war, peace, the environment

22 Home, Sweet Home Many busy maintaining home and yard
Some move, but most want to age in place, even if adult children have moved far away naturally occurring retirement community (NORC) created when they stay in neighborhood they moved into with young children One result of aging in place is that many elderly live alone

23 The Social Convoy Social Convoy—collectively, the family members, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers who move through life with an individual We travel our life in the company of others Special bonds formed over lifetime help in good times and bad People who were part of a person’s past help him or her to maintain sense of identity

24 Long-Term Marriages Spouse buffers many problems of old age
Married elders generally are healthier wealthier happier

25 Long-Term Marriages, cont.
Nature of long-lasting relationships tends to get better over time sharing of accumulated experiences affectionate acceptance of each other’s frailties with feelings of affection passionate love still exists

26 Losing a Spouse Divorce is rare in late adulthood Widowhood is common
Death of a spouse eventually occurs for half of all older married people Adjustment to loss varies depending on sex of surviving partner Many older widows come to enjoy their independence

27 Widows 4 x as many widows as widowers
Because women take better care of their health, they live longer than men Husband’s death is never easy Death can mean loss of close friend, social circle, income, and status Widows do not usually seek another husband

28 Widowers Living without a spouse is more difficult for men
Widowers often lack social support Historical gender differences make adjustment more difficult have restrictive notions of masculine behavior

29 Widowers, cont. Over course of marriage, tend to become increasingly dependent on wives for social support of all kinds After death of spouse, more likely to be physically ill than widows or married people of their age Many widowers prefer not to remarry, but with favorable gender ratio and loneliness, often find themselves more likely to remarry than widows

30 Differences in Loneliness
Men are lonelier than women Those without partners are lonelier than those with partners Divorced or widowed are lonelier Recent losses heighten loneliness The more partners lost, the lonelier one is

31 Friendship 4 percent of people over 65 have never married
most married cohort in U.S. history Never marrieds quite content contentment is linked more to friends than family Older women do more befriending Even oldest adjust to changes in social convoy Many elderly keep themselves from being socially isolated

32 Younger Generations Typical older adult has many family members of many ages As more families have only one child, that child grows up with no aunts, uncles, siblings, etc. relationship across generations may become more important

33 Younger Generations, cont.
Relationships with younger generations generally positive, but can include tension or conflict Few older adults stop “parenting” Mother-daughter relationship is close but also vulnerable Assistance arises from both need and ability to provide it Personal contact depends mostly on geographic proximity

34 Younger Generations, cont.
Affection is influenced by a family’s past history of mutual love and respect Sons feel strong obligation, while daughters feel stronger affection Cultures and families vary markedly—there is no right way for generations to interact Assistance typically flows from older generation to their children

35 The Frail Elderly Defined as—over 65, physically infirm, very ill, or cognitively impaired Activities of daily life (ADLs) bathing, walking, toileting, dressing, and eating inability to perform these tasks sign of frailty

36 The Frail Elderly, cont. Instrumental activities of daily life (IADLs)
vary from culture to culture require some intellectual competence in developed countries: phone calls, paying bills, taking medication, shopping for groceries in rural areas of other nations: feeding chickens, cultivating the garden, getting water from the well

37 Increasing Prevalence of Frail Elderly
At any moment, no more than 2 percent of world population are frail elders Increasing number for 4 reasons more people reach old age medical establishment geared toward death prevention rather than life enhancement medical care now prolongs life measures that could prevent or reduce impairment often unavailable to people with low incomes

38 Age and Self-Efficacy Active drive for autonomy, control, and independence best defense against becoming dependent Loss of control invites further weakness Both one’s attitudes and social structures influence outcomes Cultural forces become more important Protective buffers help

39 Caring for the Frail Elderly
Most are cared for by relatives In North America, 60 percent, by family and friends Other 40 percent, combination of family, friends, and professional care Current U.S. trend: husbands and wives care for each other until this becomes impossible

40 The Demands of Family Care
Toll of home caregiving is heavy caregiver’s physical health suffers and depression increases caregiver often has to give up other activities when caregiver is appreciated by others for efforts, he or she may feel fulfilled by the experience

41 Demands of Family Care, cont.
Caregivers may feel resentful if only one person is giving care while others do little or nothing when caregiver and receiver often disagree if dealing with public agencies, which rarely provide services until the need is so great that it may be too late

42 Elder Abuse When caregiver has feelings of resentment and social isolation, he or she typically experiences stress, depression, and poor health may be more likely to be abusive if he or she suffers from emotional problems or substance abuse that predate the caregiving other risk factors: victim’s social isolation, household members’ lack of education and/or poverty

43 Elder Abuse, cont. Maltreatment usually begins benignly but can range from direct physical attack to ongoing emotional neglect Frail elderly particularly vulnerable to abuse Most abuse is perpetrated by family member(s) Simplest form is financial—a relative or stranger gets elderly to sign over life savings, deed to house, or other assets

44 Nursing Homes Most elderly want to avoid them at all costs
believe they are horrible places In U.S., the worst tend to be those run for-profit, where patients are mostly on Medicare and Medicaid But, overall, abuse has been reduced In the United States and Europe, good nursing-home care available for those who can afford it

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