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University of Toronto Scarborough
Health Studies
Dan Silver

HLTB01: FINAL EXAM REVIEW 2011 Lecture 7: Theoretical Perspective on Aging Theory Can be thought of as a set of lenses for viewing actions and interactions To help us make sense of what we observe Can be used to help a researcher choose his or her research methods, questions, and sample to focus on To construct explicit explanations that account for empirical findings Theory vs. Other aspects of Knowledge Development Statements describing regularities detected in the process of systematic observations Prototypical models are formed which attempt to depict how empirical generalizations related to each other Empirical generalizations and models are accumulated and use to form theories Theory in Gerontology Early gerontologists looked for conceptual frameworks that might explain human aging by looking at popular and ancient models In gerontology, no one theory can explain all the facts about aging Researchers often use a combination of theoretical perspectives to gain a fuller understanding of their research topic Two Levels of Theory Micro-level theories = focus on individuals Macro-level theories = examine social structures Anthropology Anthropology seeks to understand human existence in geographic space and evolutionary time o Comparisons across time and cultures are central to the discipline o Age as a cultural construct Methods Ethnography o fieldwork and participant observation Contributed to findings such as: o The killing of frail elderly was not rare (Simmons 1945) o Elders provided education by sharing knowledge in the Kalahari Desert in the absence of formal teachers and schools (Shostak 1981) Anthropological Perspectives on Aging Early theoretical formulations linked the marginalization of older people to modernization More current frameworks are informed by: o Contexts in which older adults live o Special populations o Complexity and heterogeneity of difference experiences o Cultural context Age vs. Aging Theories about age explain cultural and social phenomena Theories about aging are theories about living, the changes experienced during the life course, and the interdependencies throughout life among the different generations Cultural Conceptions of Time and Age Relative time things, events, are ordered in time but we dont have a precise measurement or span Absolute time - involves measurement and is the imposition of culture on natural regularities Relative Age Absolute Age Informal Knowledge of Age Age-ambiguous Age-aware Formal Knowledge of Age Age-forced contexts Age-explicit Cultural and Age Structuring Key Concepts: o Cultural contexts, life courses, age structuring How a society organizes the interdependency between people of the same and different ages is the structuring of the life course as individuals pass through that society from birth to death Problems of Aging Across time and cultures, for most of humanities existence old age has not been a society wide problem Since humans have been able to sustain long lives physically and culturally, old age has had its problems o Poverty, disability, dependency, demographics Aging Aging involves complex interactions among biological, environmental, and cultural domains Biological Perspective of Aging Genetic o Programmed cell death o Stochastic Processes o DNA Repair Mechanisms Molecular & Cellular o Oxidation Free Radical Theory =Certain chemical compounds in the body does damage which accumulates to produce aging. The concentration of free radicals (cell damage) may increase with age - that oxidants play an important role in aging. o Lipofuscin o Heat shock Proteins System-level o Homeostasis o Wear and tear theories o Stress Psychological Theories of Aging Jung Individuation o Generally takes place in the last half of life o the individual seeks fulfillment through acceptance of ones individuality and holistic reflection Piagets 4 Stages of Cognitive Development Stage Age Characteristics of Stage The child learns by doing: looking, touching, sucking. The child also has a primitive Sensorimotor 0-2 understanding of cause-and-effect relationships. Object permanence appears around 9 months. The child uses language and symbols, including letters and numbers. Egocentrism is Preoperational 2-7 also evident. Conservation marks the end of the preoperational stage and the beginning of concrete operations. The child demonstrates conservation, reversibility, serial ordering, and a mature Concrete Operations 7-11 understanding of cause-and-effect relationships. Thinking at this stage is still concrete. Formal Operations 12+ The individual demonstrates abstract thinking, including logic, deductive reasoning, comparison, and classification Kohlbergs stages in Moral Development 1. Morality is defined as obeying rules and avoiding negative Pre-conventional Level Self-Focused consequences. (up to age nine) 2. That which satisfies the childs needs is seen as good and moral Conventional Level Other Focused 3. Children begin to understand expectations (age nine to adolescence) 4. Fulfilling obligations & following expectations 5. People have different opinions about morality. Morality is upholding the Post-conventional Level Higher Focused values of your culture. (adulthood) 6. Understanding own beliefs right and wrong is based upon the circumstances independent thought Maslows Hierarchy of Needs Psychological Theories of Aging Psychological Perspectives o Internal processes o Development has a goal Autonomy Reflection & Acceptance Nonconformity Logical reasoning Morality, Creativity, & Acceptance Sociological Perspectives on Aging Role Theory Disengagement Theory Activity Theory Continuity Theory The Life Course Perspective Role Theory The roles an individual plays at different stages in his or her lifetime are the basis of self-concept Older adults experience changes in well-being when role transitions occur Disengagement Theory As people approach the later part of the life-course, they decrease activity levels, interact less with others and become more introspective Activity Theory Older adults seek to maintain statuses achieved earlier in life and that role losses need to be replaced by activity Average Hours per Week Spent Volunteering by Age Continuity Theory The aging person substitutes new roles for lost ones, and continues to maintain typical ways of adapting to the environment. The Life Course Perspective To make sense of old age, we need to understand the entire life history People are socialized into different roles, but the meaning and experience of aging varies by culture and socioeconomic factors Important life events, transitions are influential Involves social, psychological, socio-historical, biological and processes Time, transitions, and context shape human development Individuals are dynamic and shaped by environmental factors throughout different stages in life Development of the Individual Social Relations Intersection of Age, Period, and Cohort History & Culture Lecture 8: Ethics & Research Methods Research Ethics Unethical Research Practices Motivated the need for Protocols World War II Nazi Medical Experiments Milgrams Study of obedience Tuskegee Syphilis Study Zimbardos Mock Prison Research World War II Nazi Medical Experiments During World War II (from 1939-1942) A number of German physicians conducted painful and often deadly experiments on thousands of concentration camp prisoners without their consent One category consists of experiments aimed at facilitating the survival of Axis military personnel High-altitude experiments to determine the maximum altitude troops could parachute to safety o Freezing experiments to treat hypothermia o Potable seawater A second category aimed at developing and testing pharmaceuticals and treatment methods for injuries and illnesses which German military and occupation personnel encountered in the field o prisoners were exposed and/or subjected to: phosgene and musta
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