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Lecture

Aging and Inequality

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Department
Sociology
Course
Sociology 2140
Professor
T A
Semester
Fall

Description
AGING AND INEQUALITY Growing Old Life course: socially constructed stages that people pass through as they live out their lives Social Inequality in the Life Course Childhood: Poor children have more problems Increased obesity among all children Adolescence: 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 Growing Old Gerontology: a branch of social sciences dealing with aging and the elderly 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 modernization The transformation of societies into complex urban and industrialized communities Modernization has led to increased life expectancy Medical advances Modern techniques of sanitation and water supply and nutritional intake 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 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 middle-aged 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 have networks of family and friends Problems of Aging Social isolation becomes a problem as people enter retirement: closes off an important source of contact with others Retirement poses problems as one leaves paid work behind Elder Abuse Elder abuse often goes undetected because victims are fearful or ashamed to tell others Health Illness, and Health Care: Most seniors living at home report good health Seniors account for one-third of health care spending, but they are not likely to bankrupt the system Caregiving Informal and unpaid care provided to a dependent person by family members, other relatives or friends Most caregivers are women Housing Patterns and Long-Term-Care Facilities: Mainta
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