My research is focused on early elderhood, particularly as experienced by American women. My sources include an interview I conducted with a woman in this phase of life, the data and insights of John W. Santrock in his text Life-Span Development, and my own accumulated observations since I have been in the United States. The subject is of keen interest to me because of the different perceptions of elderhood in the culture I came from and in the culture that is now my home. I suggest that in America the social construction of woman’s early elderhood is extremely important. There was research done in 2003 that describes how researchers are finding that certain testing conditions have exaggerated age-related declines in performance in older adults. To determine how age is related to behavior, and feeling, researchers try to carefully compare participants of different ages. My beginning investigations into stages of life and aging lead me to believe that the understandings of these phenomena are really in their “young” stages. Ten years from now the research may present quite different findings indeed. I believe that much can be gained in understanding elderhood by direct interviews with people in this stage of life. One can in this way appreciate how differently early elders “experience” their stages of life, and how they are or are not impacted by social expectations or media. Some women as well as men may have great difficulties with this phase of life. People, who have not been successful in forging meaningful friendships and relationships, or maintaining family ties, may have an increasing sense of loneliness or isolation. In addition, in the present American culture, where “youth” and good looks are so overvalued, the young elder may feel “left out” more than ever. People who were never skilled at making connections, working within organizations, may find doing that harder than ever. Also, particularly in...
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