SOC100H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 15: Elder Abuse, Disengagement Theory

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10 Feb 2011
Chapter 15: Aging and the Elderly
The Greying of Canada
Number of elderly people is increasing more than twice as fast as the population as a whole
Just over a century , the life expectancy of Canadians has doubled with the average number of
children has declined by half
Dramatic changes are the result of the baby boom moving up through the age categories of the
Most old people along our southern border and northward on the two coasts
Parts of Canada in which aboriginal people predominate relatively young
What is prompting the aging of our society?
oBaby boom that began in that late 1940s, after WWII, birth rates were very high but
dropped significantly by 1965
Our population will become increasingly top heavy
Canada promotes increased immigration as a solution
Birth Rate: Going Down
Children more likely to survive into adulthood in industrialized countries where couples have few
Children no long add to family’s financial well-being but instead are a major expense
More women are having less children now
Advances in birth control technology
Life Expectancy: Going Up
Canadas experienced 30 year increase in life expectancy over the twentieth century
Our longer lifespans are mainly the result of medical advances
The Consequences of Population Aging for Canada
As elderly people retire from labour force, they will add to the proportion of non-working adults
General ever greater demands for health care and other social services
Old Age Dependency Ratio: ratio of elderly people to working age adults
Elderly people of the future will tend to have higher levels of education, fewer family
responsibilities, better work experience , more savings, and better health
Costs of medical care have grown in recent years
An Aging Society: Cultural Change
Interacting with elderly people will increase
Younger generations will inevitably have more contact with older people
Greater familiarity and shared understandings
Elderly people in Canada represent not just the two sexes, but all cultures, classes and races
The young Old and the Old Old
Two cohorts of elderly people: Younger elderly and older elderly
1. Younger Elderly
-between ages 65 and 75
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-typically autonomous, enjoy good health and financial security
-likely to live as couples
2. Older Elderly
-passed age of 75
-more likely to be dependent on others because of health and money problems
women outnumber men in both cohorts
Growing Old: Biology and Culture
gerontology: study of aging and elderly people
work in many disciplines- medicine, psychology, sociology
careers that deal with elderly are likely to expand
Biological Changes
depends on how society views aging
Canadas youth-oriented culture defines changed in early life as positive; through childhood and
adolescence, we grow more mature and gain expanded opportunities and responsibilities
Our culture views aging more negatively
Physical and mental decline
Growing old brings predictable changes-overall decline in strength and vitality
Sensory abilities also weaken with age
Dementias: group of illnesses characterized by progressive cognitive impairment, including loss
of abilities such as attention span, concentration, orientation and memory
Can result from several diseases that affect the brain- Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common
form of dementia
Psychological Changes
If we measure skills like sensorimotor coordination(ability to arrange objects to match a drawing)
we find a steady decline after midlife
Ability to learn new material and to think quickly also decline
Capacity for thoughtful reflection actually increases
Only common personality change with age is becoming more introspective- people become more
engaged with their own thoughts and emotions and become less materialistic
Studies reveal that happiness among elders is related to health
Wealthier people can afford much more preventive medical care and are healthier
Happiness levels also depend on income
Although aging is a biological process, it is also a matter of culture
How long and how well people live depend on society’s technology and standard of living
By about 1900, rising living standards and advancing medical technology in North America and
Western Europe had extended longevity to about age 50
Age Stratification: A Global Survey
Defn: unequal distribution of wealth, power, and privilege among people at different states of the
life course
Varies according to societys level of technological development
Hunter/Gatherer Societies
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