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Chapter 11 Aging, Disability, and Health Policy

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SOC 103
Tonya Davidson

SOC103 How Society Works CHAPTER 11 Aging, Disability, and Health Policy Module 11.1 – Aging in Canada SENIORS’ WELL-BEING AND HEALTH STATUS  Men and women between the ages of 65 and 74 report highest scores on measures of well-being  Seniors with a university degree are more likely to report excellent or very good health than those with less than a high school education o Have greater awareness to health risks and are more likely to make use of medical services o Educated seniors more likely to have a higher income, which is linked to better health o More likely to engage in physical exercise ISSUES FACED BY SENIORS  Six issues stand out for seniors as areas of concern: 1. Transition to retirement  Those who retire voluntarily are likelier to report that they enjoy life more  Small percentage of people who retire enjoy life less; these people have fair to poor health, do not have much financial support, and did not plan adequately for retirement 2. Financial pressure  Average income families have income fall after age 60, continues to decline until age 68, and then stabilizes at about 80% of income level they had at age 55  Low income families experience little change in income throughout their retirement, largely due to income-maintenance effects of Canadian pension system  Elderly dependency ratio: the ratio of seniors to workers  Declining number of seniors living under the low income cut-off because of government transfer programs (Old Age Security system), employer pension plans (increasing contributions to Canada Pension Plan), and RRSP savings  Retirement income has grown faster than any other income source for seniors – makes up 30% of total income, average retirement income tripled 3. Age discrimination  Ageism: a system of inequality based on age that privileges the young at the expense of the old o Much of our society is grounded in our social infatuation with youth o Seniors are negatively stereotyped based on physical and mental ability  In many societies around the world, the elderly are not diminished and dismissed as ours, but instead are considered to be knowledgeable and deserving of honour and respect 4. Vulnerability to crime  Older people are targets of other crimes, such as telemarketing scams  Elder abuse: any form of mistreatment that results in harm or loss to an older person o Vulnerable to complications resulting from physical violence, since physical injuries may worsen pre-existing health problems or inhibit an older person’s ability to function independently o Younger people are more likely to exploit elders upon whom they themselves are dependent 5. Chronic pain and the need for long-term care  93% of seniors live in private households, while the remaining 7% reside in collective dwellings  Long-term care: the provision of any services required by persons who are dependent on others to meet their daily needs (EX. bathing, dressing, eating, moving around the home) o Often provided in combination with basic medical services as changing wound dressings, pain management, provision of medications, rehabilitation, and palliative care  Canada spends 1.24% of GDP on long-term care (0.99% public funding and 0.24% private)  Chronic pain: ongoing pain that lasts longer than three month after the usual recovery period for an injury or ailment 6. Preparing to die  Euthanasia: the deliberate ending of the life of a person who has an incurable or painful disease SOC103 How Society Works SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO AGING  Functionalist stresses harmony between society’s institutions and need for smooth transitions from one generation to the next o Disengagement theory: the assertion that successful aging required the gradual withdrawal from social activity  Theory suggests that older people want to be released from roles that require hard work and responsibility  Criticism is that older people enjoy becoming more involved with friends and family as well as social and political issues  Conflict perspective highlights roots of institutional ageism that focuses on the constant tension between the old and young o Creates economic competition between different age categories for positions of power o Pressure either to exclude or to embrace the elderly as a direct consequence of labour market conditions  Symbolic interactionists stress one’s identity is constructed by performing many interacting roles o Activity theory: belief that people should remain engage and active for as long as possible  Assumes people construct perceptions about themselves through the activities they do and the roles they play  Limitation to theory is that over time everyone becomes less able to remain active as a result of the inevitable physical degeneration that occurs in very old age o Assumes that remaining active and engaged has important positive benefits and leads to happier lives, has been influential in designing programs and services for older people o Important for aging people to maintain activities, and to take on new ones, that reinforce their sense of self as valuable and important  Feminist perspective explores how women respond to an aging body in society fixated on appearance and youth o Emphasizes that we should appreciate that young, attractive women also possess social power o As women age, they lose this power, they are devalued because the transition means to women’s perceptions of self as they age  Post-structuralist thinkers approach the concept of aging as embedded in a framework of truth and knowledge that develops through circulating power relations within society o Older people consume more of society’s health care resources, which to some suggest that older people should remain in the labour force to help pay their way Module 11.2 – Disabilities in Canada  People first philosophy: an approach that focuses on the individual and his or her abilities rather than limitations WHAT IS A DISABILITY?  Disability: a mental or physical condition that limits people’s everyday activities and restricts what they can do  Increase in disability rates is a result of two main factors: 1. With advances in medical technology, many children born with a serious disability or many people injured in accidents are more likely to survive today than they were in the past 2. As population ages, higher percentage of people are more likely to experience chronic diseases that may have disabling consequences  People between ages 15 and 64, most common disability is pain; people 65 and older, most common disability is limited mobility o 60% of disabilities used or needed technical aids or specialized equipment to assist in daily living  Downward drift hypothesis: the assertion that those with mental illness, unable to finish their education or secure a job, tend to drift into low-income groups  Obesity: a state characterized by a BMI of 30% or more in an adult 2 o BMI (body mass index): calculated by dividing an individual’s weight (kg) by height (m ) o Being overweight is linked to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain forms of cancer, and stroke DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES  Ableism: discrimination against those who have disabilities on the basis of preconceived notions about their limitations o The
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