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Sociology 2140 Lecture Notes - Elder Abuse, Elderly Care, Ageism

Course Code
SOC 2140

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Growing Old
Life course: socially constructed stages that people pass through as
they live out their lives
Social Inequality in the Life Course
Poor children have more problems
Increased obesity among all children
Early teens cannot do legally what later teens can
Poor teens less likely to have a job or be in school
Young people are staying at home much longer delaying the next stage
Young Adulthood
Traditionally the time to get established, but now is more difficult, if
not postponed
Middle Age
Income and prestige are at the peak, but signs of physical aging begin
Later Maturity and Old Age
Older people are an increasing percentage of the population

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Growing Old
Gerontology: a branch of social sciences dealing with aging and the
Growing old involves biological changes; how a culture defines this
stage of life makes a difference in the reality of old age
Elders: A Diverse Population
Researchers report three levels of “old”
younger old
older old
oldest old
Seniors are a socially diverse population in terms of economics, race,
ethnicity, and gender
Aging as a Social Problem
Aging places stress on the individual and society
Long term failure of social institutions to accommodate the elderly
Failure of the family to adapt to presence of older members
Strain on the labor force as careers of the young are blocked by
those in their middle years
The Elderly Today
Problems of the elderly today are tied to the process of
The transformation of societies into complex urban and industrialized

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Modernization has led to increased life expectancy
Medical advances
Modern techniques of sanitation and water supply and nutritional
Life Expectancy
The number of years, on average, people in a society can expect to live
is greater in high income nations, lower in poorest nations
Ageism: prejudice and discrimination directed against older people
age-based prejudice
age-based discrimination
ageism in the mass media
Young children: “rug rats”
Old people: “greedy geezers”
Inverted U curve: older and younger are rated lower in status than
Problems Associated with Aging
Victimization: seniors are less likely to be victims of crime, but scams
and elder abuse exist
Family Problems and Social Isolation: seniors do live alone, but many
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