This chapter reviews the grandparent–grandchild relationship when grandparents are healthy, when they contract chronic illness and are in need of care, and when they are in the process of dying. It includes the particular aspects of health because each has the potential to play an important role in the grandparent–grandchild relationship. For example, as some leisure activities require a certain level of physical ability, research on leisure and grandparent–grandchildren time together may reflect grandparents’ health. Finally, the cognitive health of grandparents may play a role in how grandparents and their grandchildren interact. The process of aging is associated with a broad range of unique and often simultaneous declines, including physical, cognitive, and psychological changes. As age-associated illnesses arise and develop there may be instances, although not common, where grandchildren are so involved in their grandparents’ life that they become a caregiver for their ill grandparent.
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This concluding chapter discusses grandparenthood and provides a brief description about the book. In this book, authors have presented multiple perspectives bearing on a deeper, multileveled understanding of grandparenthood, including the cultural/historical, developmental, ecological, cultural and cross-cultural dimensions, as well as from a clinical/family systems perspective. It attempts to understand the current and changing nature of grandparenthood, including the impact of changing historical and interpersonal contexts as well as the diverse roles that grandparents perform in families. Indeed, families today are different than before. With the increase in longevity and life expectancy leading to greater expansion of research on aging and the family, coupled with the growth of the grandparenthood literature, it is clear from the chapters in the book. The chapter concludes with future directions.
Myriad statutory, procedural, and technological innovations have been made in the criminal and civil justice systems to increase access to courts and legal services for older people and people with disabilities. This chapter describes basic legal concepts that pertain to individual rights and explains some of the criticisms that have been leveled against aging and elder abuse policy on legal grounds. It points out the role that courts play in interpreting rights, determining when they have been violated, and finding that statutes and executive actions are invalid. It focuses on a few examples that have attracted scrutiny, particularly with respect to elder abuse and neglect. Among the constitutional amendments that are most relevant to elder justice are the Fifth, which limits the government's authority to infringe on life, liberty, and the pursuit of property without due process, and the Fourteenth, which provides equal protection under the law.
This introductory chapter presents a brief description of the book and its contents. It begins with description of the concepts of truth, justice, and the American way. This book assumes that advocates for older people can increase their effectiveness by achieving a clearer understanding of Americans’ not-so-self-evident nor inalienable rights. It explores how social justice and human rights principles have applied to older adults in the past and are viewed today. The book examines how the interests of older adults compare to and are intertwined with those of other groups. In essence, it frames elder justice as the intersection between aging policy and policy that promotes human rights and justice. Finally, the chapter describes the organization of the book and presents a brief overview of each chapter.
This textbook has been developed for introductory courses in gerontology, as well as other courses with gerontology components. Gerontology is multifaceted and interdisciplinary. By necessity, it encompasses a broad range of subjects including psychology, sociology, architecture, biology, communications, economics, education, humanities, law, medicine, nursing, political science, public administration and policy, public health, public safety, social work, and vocational skills. Indeed, gerontology encompasses every academic discipline that in some way relates to the lives of older people in contemporary America. The book is divided into six parts. Part I focuses on the longevity dividend and the importance of mobilizing all sectors of the society to realize the opportunities and address the challenges of an aging society. Part II deals with physical and mental well-being. It discusses in detail the following: physical changes and the aging process; health and wellness for older adults; mental health, cognitive abilities, and aging; sexuality and aging; and death, dying, and bereavement. Part III focuses on economic and social aspects of aging. It focuses on economics, work, and retirement, explores family, friends, and social networks of older adults and discusses how older adults contribute to their communities and how they receive support. Part IV focuses on formal support systems. It discusses in detail the following: older adults giving and receiving support; medical conditions, assisted living, and long-term care; and medicare, medicaid, and medications. Part V focuses on Americans at risk for poor economic and health outcomes as they age — women, people of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (
LGBT) individuals. It also describes elder abuse and highlights its consequences. Part VI explores the many career opportunities within the field of gerontology and explains how the study of aging can be applied to any position in any field.
Older adults who are not only living longer, but actually in better health too, could boost the economy by virtue of their longer periods of productivity, their ability to earn and save more income over time, and their purchases and consumption of more goods. Furthermore, because of their accumulated wisdom, skills, and talents, they have much that they can contribute to our social environment. This chapter focuses on the longevity dividend and the importance of mobilizing all sectors of the society to realize the opportunities and address the challenges of an aging society. It includes demographic information related to aging in the United States as compared with that of other countries, as well as a discussion about the detrimental effects of ageism on older adults and on society as a whole. It is especially important for gerontology professionals to understand and avoid ageism.
There are positive and negative aspects of life at every age throughout the life span, and aging is no exception. This chapter presents a more balanced view of older adults’ mental health and cognitive abilities, one that moves away from the stereotypes. It focuses on mental health and cognitive abilities as people age, with a presentation of the many positive characteristics of older adults’ psychological and emotional well-being as well as difficulties some may face, such as depression and dementia. The chapter also describes how personality changes over the life span and how the creative arts can positively impact the lives of older adults. Finally, it discusses factors that can positively and negatively affect older adults’ mental and cognitive abilities. The Practical Application presented at the end of the chapter focuses on unique challenges faced by individuals currently around 80 and above due to mental health stereotypes and stigmas.
There is no specified common timetable for human aging; instead, there are enormous individual differences in the aging process, and all older people do not experience all possible changes. Nevertheless, as people grow older, changes that may be hardly noticeable at first tend to occur throughout the physical systems of the body. Among the physical changes that can be expected to occur as we age, some, such as gray hair and wrinkling skin, are more visible, while others, such as hearing loss and hypothermia, may be less visible. This chapter outlines the normal physical changes that accompany aging and differentiates them from the diseases and conditions that become more common with age. It also provides a discussion of the adaptations that older people can make to accommodate such changes in their health. The chapter concludes with a summary of the two basic paradigms of the biological theories of aging.
This chapter focuses on older people’s living environments—where and how they live. Their living environments include the communities in which they live, with whom they share their accommodations, and the type of housing in which they live. As with most aspects of older adult life, great diversity is common in all of these areas. The opening scenarios indicate just that, with some older people aging in place, others moving to retirement communities with enticing amenities, and yet others sharing their accommodations with others. This chapter discusses living arrangements, housing options, and age-friendly communities for older adults. It stresses the importance of living environment to older people and outlines the factors that influence their decisions about where to live. The chapter also outlines the advantages and disadvantages of living alone and investigates the issue of homelessness among older adults.
When it comes to aging, medical conditions quickly become one of the most important issues facing people. As people grow older, they are more likely to have medical conditions that require attention and that can hinder their ability to perform the daily tasks of living. Improved medical care and prevention efforts have contributed to dramatic increases in life expectancy in the United States during the past century. They have also produced a major shift in the leading causes of death for all age groups, from acute illnesses and infectious diseases to chronic conditions and degenerative illnesses. This chapter describes medical conditions experienced by older adults and outlines the major features of continuing care retirement communities, assisted living communities, and nursing homes. It also highlights the difficulty many people face in paying for the long-term care they need and discusses the significant financial burden of long-term care.