LIFE SPAN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT/PSY 375
January 12, 2012
Late Adulthood and End of Life
Late adulthood is so often considered a time to reflect, enjoy friends and family, and continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle in preparation for the final years of the human lifespan. Although genetics play a significant role in the quality of life during these final years, individuals who modify destructive lifestyles and embark on healthier options will experience an improvement in their health and sense of wellbeing (Berger, 2008). During this stage of adulthood, older adults remain socially active and independent rather than subjecting themselves to isolation and withdrawal (Berger, 2008). As more aging adults continue to live healthy, socially active lives and maintain important family roles, it is important to refrain from stereotypical thought and the negativity of ageism, which can contribute to their premature decline. With technology and high quality medical care, aging adults continue to be a valuable resource for younger generations.
Promoting Health and Wellness into Late Adulthood
Healthy habits and daily routines are essential for promoting health and wellness into late adulthood. Smoking, excessive drinking, lack of exercise, and overeating can easily cost many individuals their ability to maintain an active and independent lifestyle as they age (Berger, 2008). Exercise and a healthy diet avert many common diseases and increases energy in the elderly. Changing daily habits, even late in life can help diminish some of the effects of aging (Berger, 2008). According to Berger (2008), almost all diseases and chronic conditions normally associated with aging are powerfully influenced by one's daily routines and habits.
Mitigating Negative Aspects of Aging
Health habits are crucial to a person’s physical well being (Berger, 2008). Other than positive changes in one's daily routines and habits, early detection and maintenance of chronic conditions and diseases and preventive medicine can help mitigate the negative aspects of aging. When used in conjunction with maintaining a healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, and routine exercise, healthy choices during late adulthood make a significant difference in health and wellbeing. Preventive medicine and ongoing, high-quality medical care can maintain health and lessen the often harsh effects of aging. Genetics, cultural norms, levels of stress, available medical care, attitudes about preventive medicine, and social bias toward the elderly immensely contribute to remarkable differences in aging populations (Berger, 2008).
Ageism and Stereotypes Associated with Late Adulthood
In American culture, late adulthood is fraught with stereotypes and the negative perceptions of older adults (Busse, 1968). Although some stereotypes are purely in jest, others maintain a negative portrayal of impotency and incompetency (Nuessel, 1983). Butler (1969) calls the use of negative bias against older adults’ ageism. Ageism and negative stereotypes threaten the elderly with cognitive decline directly rooted in the aging individual's surrounding social context. According to Berger (2008), societal and cultural attitudes toward the elderly have powerful and significant effects on their self-identification, sense of importance, and self-confidence.
Ageism makes the elderly appear less intelligent than they are, to the detriment of their cognitive abilities (Berger, 2008). When aging adults have fears rooted in stereotypes, there is a possibility that these fears will undermine normal thinking (Berger, 2008). Lack of confidence impairs memory, and negative expectations and responses can affect the cognition of aging adults. It is imperative for their health and wellbeing to avoid stereotypes and attitudes that reflect negative beliefs and biases toward the...