This chapter provides a brief introduction to approaches to coping theory-from its early roots in psychodynamic defense mechanisms, through cognitive and personality approaches to coping styles, to more current work on coping and adaptive processes. The coping process approach recognizes that coping strategies are influenced not only by person characteristics such as personality, values, and developmental history but also by environmental demands and resources. The chapter develops a definition of ‘resilience’ as the ability to recognize, utilize, and develop or modify resources at the individual, community, and sociocultural levels in the service of three goal-related processes: maintenance of optimal functioning, given current limitations; development of a comfortable life structure; and development of a sense of purpose in life. A common assumption of life-span developmental theories is that the increasing physical and sometimes cognitive limitations with age necessitate changes in adaptive processes.
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This chapter reviews biodemographic theories of aging that attempt to answer the proverbial ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions in gerontology. Biodemography of aging represents an area of research that integrates demographic and biological theory and methods and provides innovative tools for studies of aging and longevity. The historical development of the biodemography of aging is closely interwoven with the historical development of statistics, demography, and even the technical aspects of life insurance. The chapter also reviews some applications of reliability theory to the problem of biological aging. Reliability theory of aging provides theoretical arguments explaining the importance of early-life conditions in later-life health outcomes. Moreover, reliability theory helps evolutionary theories explain how the age of onset of diseases caused by deleterious mutations could be postponed to later ages during the evolution this could be easily achieved by simple increase in the initial redundancy levels.
This chapter describes the interpretive perspective in all its richness and variability in guiding research and advancing understanding of a wide range of phenomena in aging and life-course research. It discusses the interpretive perspective with other variants of social science theorizing, particularly normative perspectives on aging and life course-placing its development in historical context. The chapter addresses the contentious issue of causal explanation, as understood in diverse disciplinary contexts. It highlights some prominent normative theoretical approaches in social gerontology, by way of providing a comparative context for our primary consideration of the interpretive perspective. A given theoretical perspective in gerontology can focus solely on macro level, structural phenomena, on micro-level behavior and social interaction, or on understanding of the links between macro and micro phenomena.
This chapter traces the development of concepts and theories in the sociology of aging from the 1940s through the mid-1970s through seven themes. The first theme describes the importance of age in social structure and the place of the aged in changing societies. The second theme focuses on the issue of ‘successful aging’: how to define, measure, and achieve it. The third theme highlights the tension between social structure and individual agency in the activity versus disengagement theory controversy. The fourth theme concerns the social meanings of age, age cohorts, and generations, as well as interactions between age groups. The fifth theme focuses on families, aging, and intergenerational relations. The sixth theme of age stratification deals with the interplay between cohort succession and the aging of individuals. The seventh theme addresses the life course as a socially constructed process.
There can be little doubt that older people have today assumed a special place in the American social policy and political landscape. They constitute a large and growing population, they are increasingly well organized, and they are the recipients of public benefits that are the envy of every other social policy constituency in the nation. This chapter reviews and assesses different theoretical approaches that may help account in all or in part for these fairly recent and remarkable developments. The organization here centers on six distinct theoretical avenues for better understanding these political and policy developments: the logic of industrialization and policy development, the role of political culture and values, the presence of working-class mobilization, the impact of individual and group participation, the weight of state structure, and the effects of policy in shaping subsequent events.
- Go to chapter: Theories of Environmental Gerontology: Old and New Avenues for Person–Environmental Views of Aging
This chapter provides some integrative perspectives to some of the enduring conceptual challenges in the area, such as place dimension while we age; what available theories in the ecology of aging are telling us; and what kind of new impulses refinement in this area are needed. It argues that the current trend toward intensive measurement designs in the daily ecology and the related increasing use of ambulatory assessment, taking into account short-term, interindividual variability in areas such as cognitive and emotional functioning, and daily stress experiences, may benefit from environmental gerontology perspectives. As we see it, environmental gerontology rests on three main principles two more related to the concept level and one more related to research strategy: importance of person-environmental (P-E) transaction and developmental co-construction; importance of explicitly considering the environment, with a focus on the physical-spatial dimension; and importance of optimizing ecological validity in research.
The lifelong manifold process of aging implicates biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors that interact over time and across place in complex ways to direct and temporally organize the shapes and boundaries of lives. As such, aging is a long, broad, and deep process: long, because it occurs continuously across the life span; broad, because it continuously integrates diverse factors from across levels of observation; deep, because it is never fully and directly observable as an ongoing generative process. Over the last two decades, theory building in aging inequality has focused on defining the role of health in the aging process. Arguably, health is now the core metric of aging; the diverse and complex patterns of disease, disability, and mortality with age have become the central problem for aging researchers, especially those concerned with social inequality and its pervasive and enduring effects.
- Go to chapter: Introduction: Psychology—Rising as a Discipline to Meet the Challenges of an Aging, Increasingly Diverse Society
Introduction: Psychology—Rising as a Discipline to Meet the Challenges of an Aging, Increasingly Diverse Society
This chapter presents an illustration of the complexities involved in studying ethnic and racial influences on psychosocial processes and how they are intimately tied to physical outcomes in later life. It focuses on psychology as a discipline, minority aging research during the last several decades has revealed the need for multidisciplinary and intersectional conceptual and research approaches. The chapter also focuses on the age, gender, socioeconomic, cultural, and racial and ethnic graded influences on life course development that eventuate in unequal burdens of psychological and physical health morbidity and mortality for certain groups in late life. No section on psychology could be complete without a discussion of religion and spirituality among racial and ethnic minorities. Generational processes are clearly implicated in ideas about the cyclical nature of poverty and health behaviors that are intricately linked with environmental factors and social influence.
This chapter examines the Older Americans Act (OAA) through the prism of the coming nexus of aging and ethnic/racial diversity. It explains that the OAA can serve as a foundation for building a home- and community-based set of services for all older adults and persons with disabilities and for addressing aging in the 2lst century. The OAA is the primary federal program providing a host of services that enable older persons and their families to live in their homes and communities with a measure of dignity and independence. The OAA, Administration on Aging (AOA), and aging network today provide five major categories of services: access to social and legal services, nutrition, home- and community-based long-term social and supportive services, disease prevention and health promotion, and vulnerable elder rights protections. The OAA and the AOA remain secondary players in national agenda setting for an aging population.
This chapter discusses the history, organization, development, and the future of Medicare and applies Andersen’s Behavioral Model of Health Services Use to understand utilization among the elderly and conduct a systematic literature review. It analyzes racial/ethnic disparities in health care utilization among the elderly using Andersen’s model and discuss the implications of the current proposals for changes in Medicare for health care utilization especially among minority aging. Racial/ethnic differences in seniors’ use of medical care were sizable before the Medicare program. The focus on deficits and controlling the cost of government has in turn increased the focus on health care and entitlement programs like Medicare. Medicare is important to ensure access to health care for the elderly, particularly the poor and minorities. However, with the rising health care costs and changing demographics, it is clear that Medicare needs some type of reform to ensure its continuing viability.
This chapter focuses on aging and health issues in all of America’s major minority populations including African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, as well as Native Americans. It addresses the issues of health inequality and health advantage/disadvantage. The chapter introduces relatively new areas of inquiry including long-term care, genetics, nutrition, health interventions, and health policy issues. In addition to possible genetic factors, the literature has emphasized the influence of poverty and socioeconomic status as well as stressors associated with minority group status. The system of long-term care services will need to be restructured to take into account issues affecting minority populations such as health care coverage, housing and income supports, as well as cultural issues as filial piety and trust. The field of minorities, aging, and health has been dominated by a health inequality perspective that has been illustrated by the application of cumulative disadvantage/cumulative inequality theory.
This book provides a multidisciplinary compendium of research pertaining to aging among diverse racial and ethnic populations in the United States. It focuses on paramount public health, social, behavioral, and biological concerns as they relate to the needs of older minorities. The book is divided into four parts covering psychology, public health/biology, social work, and sociology of minority gang. The book focuses on the needs of four major race and ethnic groups: Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, black/African American, and Native American. It also includes both inter- and intra-race and ethnic group research for insights regarding minority aging. The chapters focus on an array of subject areas that are recognized as being critical to understanding the well-being of minority elders. These include psychology (cognition, stress, mental health, personality, sexuality, religion, neuroscience, discrimination); medicine/nursing/public health (mortality and morbidity, disability, health disparities, long-term care, genetics, nutritional status, health interventions, physical functioning); social work (aging, caregiving, housing, social services, end-of-life care); and sociology (Medicare, socioeconomic status (SES), work and retirement, social networks, context/neighborhood, ethnography, gender, demographics).
This chapter presents a case for examining aging in the United States through an inter-sectionality lens. It begins by presenting age, gender, and race/ethnicity as social constructions, followed by a conceptual overview of intersectionality to highlight strengths as well as challenges in this approach, particularly as it relates to health. The chapter reviews the most current thinking on gender and minority health, with special attention to social roles and contextual factors, and methodological approaches. The social construction of gender has been widely addressed in the sociological literature, with identified insights for better understanding health and the aging process. Research on gender and physical health outcomes draws much greater scholarly attention than mental health in later life. The intersectionality paradigm has provided new directions for identifying the importance of gender as a key element for predicting health across the life course.
Scholarship on ethnic minority families and aging has wrestled implicitly or explicitly with the understanding of a theoretical dichotomy not uncommon in the field of sociology as a whole: the role that culture plays as either an epiphenomenon and/or as an integral element of the social structure. Interpretations of that basic structural versus cultural duality may derive from broader ideological perspectives, but they may also reflect a superficial framing of the concept of culture in scholarly analyses of ethnic minority families. This chapter presents a review of ethnographic literature on minority families and aging that is grounded in both racial/ethnic and feminist perspectives. It discusses three major topics that emerged as most salient in recent ethnographic studies: the concepts of familism, family obligations, and filial piety; the role of living arrangements, urban/rural space, and the neighborhood context on family experiences; and intergenerational relations, health, and caregiving.
This chapter focuses on the role that Adult Protective Services (APS) and related service systems play in protecting vulnerable older adults and adults with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It articulates policy issues connected to elder justice. The chapter also explores human rights issues related to elder abuse, aging, and disabilities, particularly how to balance rights to self-determination and safety when working with abused, neglected, and exploited older adults. APS operate within a continuum of services that challenge social workers in their efforts to respond effectively to elder abuse. In addition to knowledge of aging, disabilities, the dynamics of family violence and care giving, and community resources and skills in capacity assessment, working in multidisciplinary teams, advocacy, and systems navigation, social workers need commitment to values of self-determination and empowerment to guide their work in this system.
The general topic of successful aging (SA) has long been a major theme in gerontology and has been an especially prominent and growing aspect of gerontological research and program development over the past 25 years. This chapter focuses on substantial empirical research that builds on the general concept of SA to inform theory evolution and various forms of program development at the individual and community level. There has been very substantial theoretical work, over several decades, on the interrelated but differentiated dual approaches of the life-course and life-span perspectives on aging. Usual aging was seen as laden with risk of disease and disability mediated by lifestyle-related increased lipids, glucose, and blood pressure, and decreased renal, pulmonary, cardiac, immune, and central nervous system (CNS) function. A successfully aging society can be seen as one that is productive, cohesive, secure, and equitable.
This chapter illustrates that aging in place is richer and more dynamic than simply understanding aging as loss and place as a static physical environment. The conceptual cornerstone of environmental gerontology is Lawton and Nahemow’s Ecological Model of Aging, otherwise known as the ‘competence-press model’ of aging. The concept of aging in place has evolved from the simple homeostatic notion of person-environment (P-E) fit to a more dynamic conceptualization that considers people, places, the programs they embody, constructive selective and accommodative processes, and the goals that motivate the entire enterprise, as they all evolve over time. The ecological framework of place (EFP) identifies a variety of factors that are hypothesized to affect P-E fit, including characteristics of individuals, places, and time.
Studies in model organisms strongly support the idea that proteostasis is critical for healthy longevity and that enhanced proteostasis is associated with longevity both across species and within species. This chapter provides an overview of the evidence supporting the theory that loss of protein homeostasis is a conserved mechanism of aging. It also provides an overview of current evidence that loss of proteostasis is a central driver of aging and age-related disease, based on studies from a variety of model systems and clinical data. Although the link between loss of proteostasis and disease is strongest in age-associated neurodegenerative disorders, there is growing evidence that misfolding and aggregation of proteins also contribute to other age-related diseases, as well as functional decline in numerous tissues and organ systems accompanying the aging process. The heat shock response (HSR) has been strongly implicated in aging in several organisms, including yeast, worms, and flies.
This chapter discusses prismatic history a selective, select account of theory building in the field, which ideally stirs gerontological imaginations about future theoretical work. Several of gerontology’s founders promulgated or borrowed theories to guide research on aging. Based on work in pathology, cytology, and immunology, Metchnikoff formulated ‘phagocytosis‘, an interdisciplinary theory of aging hypothesizing that large intestinal white blood cells destroyed microbes that hastened premature senility in humans, apes, dogs, and plants; the construct anticipated various degenerative and wear-and-tear theories. Biologist Vincent Cristofalo, endorsing no unified biological theory of aging, reduced models into groupings of stochastic and developmental-genetic theories. Gerontologists demolished disengagement theory in Unripe Time. Not even a giant like Robert Havighurst could salvage parts of activity theory in order to sustain his pioneering theory of successful aging.
Social support from close relationships is one of the most well-documented psychosocial predictors of physical health outcomes. Social support is distinguishable from other health-relevant social processes including social integration and social negativity. This chapter reviews epidemiological work on social support and health, and explores the major life-span models that have implications for understanding these issues. Importantly, the link between social support and mortality was consistent across age, sex, geographical region, initial health status, and cause of death. In order to elaborate on the developmental processes over time that might impact social support from close relationships and health, a life-span model of support has been proposed that attempts to integrate prior work and models across disciplines. Most social support interventions also target individuals who are most at risk or who already have psychological, behavioral, or medical problems.
Mounting evidence has shown that an array of proinflammatory cytokines and mediators is frequently elevated in aging populations, including interleukin (IL)-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and C-reactive protein (CRP). In addition to chronological aging, sterile inflammation can be associated with a number of age-related disorders and diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), bone diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and frailty. Many types of cancer are also related to or are preceded by chronic inflammation at sites of tumor development. Although more studies are required, evidence to date suggests that drugs that target age-related chronic inflammation and related fundamental aging processes, including cellular senescence or the age-related increase in mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activity, might play an important role in reducing age-related disability, frailty, and multiple chronic diseases as a group.
This chapter describes the fundamental evolutionary theories that seek to explain the presence of aging despite its apparent detrimental effects on individual fitness and explores key evidence and shortcomings of these theories. It focuses on the observed trade-offs between life span and reproduction, highlighting potential molecular mechanisms by which selection can fail to eliminate, or even promote, patterns of senescence. An underexplored avenue by which selection can act on aging, mate choice, and sexual selection is then discussed leading to the development of a verbal model whereby mate choice could promote senescence as a by-product of honest sexual signaling. The chapter then explores how the described evolutionary theories pertain to human diseases, and identifies the critical absence of some important evolutionary processes in the evolutionary theory of aging and disease. Finally, it provides an in-depth understanding of why species age, and implications on human aging.
This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on theoretical and conceptual developments in research on aging, both within and across disciplines. Recent years have brought major investments in longitudinal data, investments essential to understanding aging as a dynamic, multifaceted, and interactive process. The book summarizes what is meant by theory, and why theory is so important to advancing aging-related research, policy, practice, and intervention. The theory portrays the relationships among the complex variables suggested by a theory. A good theory identifies the problem and its most important components based on the separate findings and empirical generalizations from research. As the field of gerontology and research on aging continue to rapidly expand, the need for a strong theory will only grow.
Scholars studying social connectedness draw on the sociological theory of social capital. In recent years, social scientists have proposed theoretical and conceptual models to explore the role of social connectedness in the specific context of aging. Recent data on the social networks of older adults paint a rich picture of the individual, or egocentric, social networks of the elderly community-dwelling population. This chapter discusses the theory of social capital, and explores the main effects and stress-buffering models of social connectedness and health. Although social capital theory has effectively guided empirical research, new ideas and concepts in aging research are generating interest among scholars, and are taking the field in innovative directions. A series of studies based on the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study (NAS), an ongoing study of aging established in 1963, documents a relationship between air pollution and various health conditions such as increased blood pressure and inflammation.
This chapter combines the increasing number of studies that pertain to the stereotype embodiment theory (SET) and reflects upon to represent the current state of this theoretical perspective and how it can help explain age stereotypes’ contributions to health and aging. It describes the history, cultural context, and nature of age stereotypes and age self-stereotypes in a largely ageist society. The chapter presents SET, which provides a framework for explaining how age stereotypes are acquired to subsequently influence health outcomes. It discusses replication studies conducted in different countries, as well as meta-analyses, to demonstrate the validity of this theory as well as to illustrate the meaning and impact of its components. The chapter illustrates how SET may be applied to shape future healthy aging research, policy, and practice. Empirical evidence supports the importance of age stereotype self-relevance among older adults.
The book summarizes what is meant by theory, and why theory is so important to advancing aging-related research, policy, practice, and intervention, and can keep researchers and practitioners in gerontology abreast of the newest theories and models of aging. It addresses theories and concepts built on cumulative knowledge in four disciplinary areas, biology, psychology, social sciences, and policy and practice, as well as landmark advances in trans-disciplinary science. Since longevity is indirectly governed by the genome it is sexually determined, and because aging is a stochastic process, it is not. Chapters cover major paradigm shifts that have occurred in geropsychology, theories in the sociology of aging, evolutionary theories pertaining to human diseases, theories of stem cell aging, evidence that loss of proteostasis is a central driver of aging and age-related diseases, theories of emotional well-being and aging, theories of social support in health and aging, and other theories such as environmental gerontological theories and biodemographic theories. Many chapters also address connections between theories and policy or practice. The book also contains a new section, "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants", which includes personal essays by senior gerontologists who share their perspectives on the history of ideas in their fields, and on their experiences with the process and prospects of developing good theory.
Efforts to understand the biology and cause of human aging are as old as recorded history. Even during the Age of Enlightenment, and the major discoveries made in biology in the 20th century, the fundamental cause of aging is still a mystery. Age changes can occur in only two fundamental ways-either by a purposeful program driven by genes or by stochastic or random events. But, once reproductive maturation is reached, thought is divided with respect to whether the aging process results from a continuation of the genetic program or whether it occurs by the accumulation of dysfunctional molecules. The quantitative variation in physiological capacity, repair, and turnover accounts for the differences in longevity both within and between species. Because longevity is indirectly governed by the genome it is sexually determined. Because aging is a stochastic process, it is not.
This chapter looks toward the future of theory development in research on aging, and offers some perspectives that will be helpful to graduate students, postdocs, and junior investigators. It highlights some directions for theory development and theory-driven research and application that are likely to be the most fruitful arenas for explanatory inquiry in the decade to come. These include: successful and positive aging; longevity, health, and well-being in aging; environments, and transactions among aging individuals and their environments; the life course and its effects on aging; and variations in trajectories of aging. Within the realm of health, we want to make special note of the surge in aging research on social genomics and epigenetics, which is certain to continue growing in the future and is in need of theories to explain the interplay between genes and environments as well as the transmission of effects across multiple generations.
Wisdom tends to provide a sense of mastery and meaning in life that sustains well-being even under adverse circumstances. This chapter provides a summary of explicit and implicit wisdom theories. It explores the contextual life-course approach to address the divergent trajectories of personal wisdom development, with focuses on the importance of social support networks and role models. The chapter also explores the associations among wisdom and culture, religion/spirituality, and well-being in old age. Most wisdom literature concurs that advanced cognitive development is necessary but not sufficient for wisdom to arise. In older adult samples of mixed educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, wisdom, assessed as analytic and synthetic wisdom modes and an integration of cognitive, reflective, and compassionate wisdom dimensions was positively associated with subjective well-being, even after controlling for physical, health, socioeconomic status, financial situation, physical environment, and social involvement.
This chapter focuses on three major areas of investigation into the role of religion and spirituality in older people’s lives: age differences in the nature of religious and spiritual belief and practice; health benefits that accrue to older people who profess a religious faith and engage in spiritual activities; and influences on social and intergenerational relationships and support resulting from membership of a faith tradition. Social gerontology’s recent concern with religion and spirituality in later life has had a relatively limited impact on theorizing about aging and social relationships. Hinduism is also widely regarded as an age-friendly religion, which ascribes a distinct more mature stage of being to the last stages of life, in preparation for the transition to a new life beyond death. The chapter concludes with a stress on the importance of conducting research on religion, spirituality, and aging in non-Western and non-Christian cultures.
Gerontology has an uneasy and codependent relationship with chronological age. This chapter describes the meanings and uses of age in research on aging, focusing mainly on concepts and theories but also making a few observations on methods. To advance theories of social phenomena, investigators must reveal the relevance and irrelevance of age in contemporary social life. Researchers often use age as a proxy for things that are highly age-related but have not been measured-say, some biological, psychological, or social aspect of development. Age-based explanations are about maturation, but cohort-based explanations are about historical events and social change. Larger life phases can be the basis for ageism and age stereotypes-common images or perceptions of people of different ages, and their physical, psychological, and social characteristics. Stereotype embodiment theory (SET) has advanced recent research on ageism and age stereotypes.
This chapter considers the major paradigm shifts that have occurred in geropsychology as it has progressed over the course of the 20th century. It also considers the consequences of increased interdisciplinarity for studies of aging within the discipline of psychology. The chapter describes the recent interest in research-based psychological interventions in the aging process, and of the more recent influence of advances in neuroscience. The study of aging, however, was early on recognized in the context of American psychology, and the division of adulthood and aging was one of the first 20 substantive divisions of the American Psychological Association (APA). The development of structural and functional Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has had a revolutionary enhancement of neuroscience, allowing for the first time the conduct of direct tests of the relationship between age changes in behavior and brain changes during normal and pathological aging.
- Go to chapter: The Multiplicity of Aging: Lessons for Theory and Conceptual Development From Longitudinal Studies
This chapter offers a new perspective on the development of theories of aging by proposing that the complexity of the aging process requires accounting for its multiplicity, specifically, its multiple time frames, multidirectionality, multidimensionality and interplay of factors, and multilevel influences. It takes advantage of the increasing number of longitudinal studies in the aging and developmental field to outline some lessons about the way theories on aging may be developed in the future to gain a more comprehensive picture of development and aging. The chapter proposes the principle of multidimensionality and interplay of factors as a third way of developing heuristic theories. It reviews several longitudinal studies that show that interplay between biological, psychological, and social factors affects important outcomes, such as subjective health or well-being.
The first theories of emotion and aging began simply, following assumptions established in biological and cognitive aging research. This chapter outlines findings and theories generated in the early years of gerontology, when the formal study of emotions and aging had just begun. The selective optimization with compensation (SOC) model acknowledges the reduced reserve capacities that often accompany aging and that lead to fewer domains of functioning. The amygdalar aging hypothesis, for example, posits that age-related declines in the amygdala are responsible for age-related reductions in negative emotional experiences. The study of emotion and aging has burgeoned in recent years, with researchers carefully distinguishing between different types of emotion regulation strategies and assessing various aspects of emotional well-being. Theories on emotion and aging have varied, with some focused on deterioration and decline, and others on gains.
Older adults experiencing cognitive decline and any of the dementias are suffering in ever increasing numbers. With the aging of the baby-boom generation, the incidence of cognitive decline and dementia will exponentially escalate over the coming years. With this coming tsunami of dementia, older adults experiencing dementia, as well as their family members and caregivers, will need the services of psychologists. Psychologists are needed to help families recognize the importance of end-of-life planning for an older adult when first diagnosed with a dementia. When an older adult understands that he or she has responsibility for and choice in the decision to abuse a psychoactive substance, there is a greater probability of successful treatment and recovery from a substance abuse problem. Psychologists are in a unique position to assess whether older abuse is occurring and, when discovered, to intervene with advocacy initiatives.Source:
This chapter provides an introduction to current theories and areas of investigation in the biology of aging. Telomeres are an important determinant of life span, and after a number of cell replications, the end replication problem becomes manifest. Antagonistic pleiotropy is the concept of biological properties that have developed through evolution to increase reproductive capability, even if they cause harm later in life. Free radicals drive the aging process but their effects can be ameliorated with antioxidants. Caloric restriction provides a well-established mechanism for extending the life span, but requires chronic food deprivation. The chapter finally provides an introduction to basic concepts in research on genes related to aging, such as single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) and several genes under focus, such as those related to apolipoprotein E (APOE), catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
This chapter presents a broad and general overview of the structural and physiological changes that occur with aging as well as the underlying pathophysiology of age-related diseases. The body comprises eleven organ systems that include the integumentary, muscular, skeletal, nervous, circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, endocrine, urinary/excretory, reproductive, and digestive systems. As such, the ensuing sections are arranged by organ system and structured to cover age-related physiological changes and common disorders. Older adults experience a myriad of physiological changes as they age. While some of these physiological changes are benign, other changes increase the risk of age-associated pathophysiological changes, which can result in significant functional impairment or morbidity. These pathophysiological changes are not to be considered part of the normative aging process. Thus, it is essential that providers distinguish between the two states.
This chapter provides insight into the demographics of aging, and an overview of potential benefits and challenges of using technology to help older adults. It outlines four interconnected challenges of an aging population. With the expected increase in care needs that coincides with an aging population, the first challenge is the question of how to provide relevant high quality-care to older persons. Second, with fewer caregivers available in relation to the growing population in need, we can expect that the relative burden of care experienced by caregivers will increase. The third challenge is to increase the relative number of healthy and independent seniors by taking a more proactive approach with prevention and health maintenance strategies. The final challenge addressed concerns the development of health care systems and policy changes that are more inclusive of needed assistive technologies and medical devices.
The growth of the aging population in the United States is expanding, but our knowledge of sexuality among older adults is not keeping pace, allowing the ongoing perpetuation of myths about sexuality and aging. Aging couples may benefit when they understand that they may not be able to restore the sexual health they remember from their teens, 20s, or 30s but can expect to determine realistic, attainable goals that may include a variety of changes in routine, expansion of their sexual repertoire, and the incorporation of medications. This chapter briefs on the social context of aging, myths about sexuality in older adults, and challenges to sexual activity as people age. It then describes biological, psychological, and relationship changes and aging; and sexual behavior in residential healthcare. Older adults need to be counseled about practicing safer sex as 12% to 22% of all new
AIDSdiagnoses occur in this population.
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.
The broad array of community-based services for older adults has developed over time as a result of the Older Americans Act (OAA) and the Administration on Aging (AoA) and the funding allocated to this act by Congress. With an expanding consumer base, the result of population aging, the aging networks have had to evolve over time, and while there have been and will continue to be some growing pains, there continues to be concerted efforts on many fronts to be support for providing services and programs that increase the quality of life for older adults. This chapter explores the expanding consumer base of the aging. It describes how long-term services and supports (LTSS) can be better managed and paid for to support those who need long-term support and services. Finally the chapter discusses how aging networks can and will evolve over time to serve the changing cohorts of older adults.
This chapter reviews the typical changes in cognitive functioning that occur with aging. It presents an overview of the concept of crystallized and fluid intelligence. More recently intelligence has been conceptualized as consisting of multiple abilities, not adequately represented by a general quotient. The Seattle Longitudinal Study was the first major longitudinal study of cognitive changes with age. The chapter discusses changes in specific cognitive abilities with age. The inhibitory deficit hypothesis was presented as an explanation for changes with attention with age. One consistent finding has been that processing speed declines with advancing age. Visuospatial and language abilities remain fairly stable compared to other abilities. Memory comprises several types of memory, which are affected differentially by aging. Executive functioning also consists of several separate skills, affected differently by aging. Lastly, the chapter discusses two important implications of cognitive changes with age, driving and mandatory retirement ages.
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 chapter explores changes that occur to the brain, beginning with an overview of modern technologies that are used to answer questions about brain functioning in older adults. Next it summarizes the changes that occur to the brain with normal aging. Finally, the chapter presents an overview of neuroplasticity. Although the human brain clearly loses volume with age, the brain also shows plasticity that can be used to maintain functioning in old age. Research in the coming decades can use the principles of neuroplasticity described previously to enhance the functioning of older adults, whether they are experiencing normal age-related change or damage to the brain following strokes or other neurological events. Neuroimaging methods will continue to be developed that allow us to determine what happens to the brain with age, and in response to neurological events, and how neuroplasticity enables the brain to adjust to such changes.
While high-income nations have experienced increasing life expectancy as a consequence of better healthcare and healthier lifestyles, this does not mean that the size of the aging population will be the highest globally. The issue of HIV and older adults will continue to be a public health issue across the globe and will require the attention of factors related to socioeconomic context as well as sexual health and education. Regardless of the income of specific nations, families provide essential and important support for elders. The support of the oldest-old and those who require long-term supports and services earlier in life will be the most pressing issue for all nations going forward—rich and poor alike. These issues, in and of itself, is a great reason to participate and learn about international issues and global aging so that we can in fact face the challenge of change in our aging world.
This chapter briefly discusses housing and housing education activities that offer several unique perspectives on understanding issues of housing for older adults. The housing education activities are as follows: (1) Find a Nursing Home, (2) Field Trips to Senior Facilities, (3) Household Disaster Planning Kits, (4) Long-Term Care Residence Disaster Planning and (5) Applying Anti-Racist Pedagogy to the Exploration of Senior Housing. Activity 1, simulates some of the challenges older adults and their families face by actively engaging participants in the process of evaluating nursing home quality. Activity 2, provides hands on context to understanding the diverse housing options in the senior housing continuum. Activity 3, addresses an often overlooked concern for persons aging in place. Activity 4, similarly addresses the issue of emergency preparedness, this time in the context of conducting research and a focus on institutional rather than individual planning.
Social workers, both in the community and within the Veterans Administration (VA), provide a comprehensive range of services to a broad demographic of veterans. Service provision for veterans can address a wide range of issues including aging, homelessness, reintegration, sexual assault, physical and psychological war injuries, and substance abuse. Research-informed practice allows social workers to effectively address the special needs of veterans. This chapter discusses the landscape of social work practice with veterans and the interconnectedness of research, policy, and service delivery. It offers an introduction to working with veterans from a practice, policy, and research perspective. Social workers should have a working knowledge of military culture, the impact of deployment, subsequent redeployments, reintegration, and adjustment to civilian life. It is essential for social workers to have knowledge about the physical and psychological aspects of trauma, particularly war-related trauma.
Work plays a major role in our lives. It provides an organizing force in our activities and helps form our self-concept. Who we are and how we see ourselves is influenced by our work. The study of aging focusing on the employment and retirement issues of middle-aged and older workers is called industrial gerontology (Sterns & Alexander, 1987). The aging of the work force creates such issues as choosing to work longer, early retirement by choice or imposed, career patterns, finances, and health and disability. This chapter addresses many of these issues. As the population ages, the nature of work and retirement need to adjust accordingly. There is a greater need than in times past for nations to develop policies, work-places to identify strategies to maximize the value of an aging workforce, and individuals to plan for what work life and retirement pathways best suit their needs.
This book outlines the many changes that have taken place in both the policy arena and the demographics of aging. It is divided into four sections. The first section, Older Americans and the Aging Networks, shows how older Americans are increasingly diverse in a variety of ways, including racial and ethnic backgrounds, religion, spirituality, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. It presents the latest demographic data on the older population in the United States, as an important background to the planning and development of programs and services. It also addresses the current status of older Americans and the social, political, and economic consequences of the demographic shifts we are currently undergoing and must be prepared for to face tomorrow. The section two addresses Older Americans Act legislation and an expanding consumer base and the evolution from what we knew as a network to what we see now and will continue to witness in terms of an expanding set of networks attempting to work together to improve the lives of older adults. The section three brings us to a new era of community-based services that also includes issues related to the rights and well-being of older Americans. It introduces community-based services provided by the aging networks and addresses the community supports provided by the aging networks to assist older adults to age in place. Aging in place, as we define it, is anywhere an older adult is living, whether it is independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, or in a family or group setting. The final section weaves together the landscape of survival, sustainability, and success. It discusses in detail the workforce issues of the aging network, the aging world and the challenge of change, and the persistent and emerging issues for the aging networks.
The importance of social factors and relationships on health status has strong support in the literature. Furthermore, the impact of social support for positive health outcomes or providing a buffer from poor health indicates that understanding social networks and relationship status is essential to determining how to promote health in the aging population. This chapter seeks to delve into these societal trends and examine how they are affecting the physical health and well-being of the globally aging population. The first section looks into trends in nuptial and relationship status and the impact this has on physical and psychological health of older adults. This is followed by a discussion of the impact of living arrangements for older adults. The chapter concludes with an examination of the impact of caregiving on the psychological well-being of older adults.