This book fills a gaping void in the selection of textbooks to use in graduate courses on the psychology of aging. It serves as a primer for any graduate student who is going to work in a clinical setting with older adults, or in a research lab that studies some aspect of the psychology of aging. The book introduces students to the background knowledge needed in order to understand some of the more complex concepts in the psychology of aging. Additionally, it provides clear explanations of concepts (e.g., genetics of aging research, neuroimaging techniques, understanding of important legal documents for older adults). The book focuses solely on older adults, providing in-depth coverage of this burgeoning population. It also provides coverage on cognitive reserve, neurocognitive disorders, and social aspects of aging. The book is intended for graduate students or upper-level undergraduate students in psychology, biology, nursing, counseling, social work, gerontology, speech pathology, psychiatry, and other disciplines who provide services for, or perform research with, older adults. It is organized into four sections. Section I presents introduction to the psychology of aging. Section II gives a core foundation in biological aspects of aging. It covers general biological theories of aging, common physical health problems in older adults, and normal changes that occur to the brain with aging. Section III describes the psychological components of aging such as changes in personality and emotional development, mental health aspects of aging, normal changes in cognitive functioning, cognitive reserve and interventions for cognitive decline, neurocognitive disorders in aging, aging's impact on relationships and families, and working in late life and retirement. The final section presents the social aspects of aging, which includes death, bereavement, and widowhood, aging experience in ethnic and sexual minorities, and lastly, aging and the legal system.
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This chapter aims to discuss the cohort effects, health disparities and cultural stressors, and factors contributing to the resiliency and growth of ethnic, sexual, and gender minority older adults. Being part historian, student, and investigator can help clarify how these multifaceted aspects of identity affect the experiences of older adults in your personal and professional lives. The intersectionality of these factors makes for complex, inspiring, and sometimes distressing stories about overcoming adversity, achieving new heights, and at times sitting with the pain and frustration of discrimination and prejudice. The diversity within older adult populations also affords invaluable research opportunities to improve our knowledge of aging and enhance our provision of care. Moreover, developing a greater appreciation for older adults, including their strengths and hard-fought battles, can help us appreciate the privileges and civil rights we often take for granted.