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Issues Effecting the Elderly

By jlopearson Nov 01, 2010 1028 Words
Issues Affecting the Aged
Jacqueline Lopez
BSHA 342
University of Phoenix

Issues Affecting the Aged
From the time of infancy through the late stages of adulthood physical, psychological and cognitive changes occur. Before one is born the aging process has begun, although each person’s changes occur at different times, these changes occur in stages. Reaching late adulthood comes with rewards and problems; some of the problems that adults in the late stage of life encounter are decline in mental and physical health, coping with the idea of death and with the coping death of a loved one. There are many social and cultural factors that impact how an elderly person copes with the changes of the last stage of life.

Biological Changes
Aging leads to deterioration of the external and internal body; aging causes memory loss, organ problems, bone and cardiovascular diseases, as well decreased brain functions. Deterioration is inevitable but one can reduce the negative impacts of aging by living a healthy lifestyle through a well balance diet and exercise. According to Berk (2010), the physical changes that occur in the human body are nervous system changes, sensory system changes, cardiovascular and respiratory changes, immune system changes and the physical and mobility changes. When the nervous system is impacted changes occur in the brain occur, the brain weight declines loosing the brain neurons that impact balance and coordination (Berk, 2010). Elderly adults that experience deteriorations of the nervous system often use canes, walkers or wheel chairs to move around because of lack of stability. Without the assistance of the walkers and the canes the elderly can risk bodily harm by falling. Sensory changes cause loss in vision and possibly blindness, hearing, taste and smell and touch. Although deterioration is inevitable slowing down the process and preventing many of the problems aging brings can be achieved by having effecting coping strategies.

Effective Coping Strategies
To slow down and prevent problems caused by aging through diet, exercise, having an active and stimulating lifestyle. Physical inactivity increases the risk of developing coronary artery disease, heart disease, heart attacks and high blood pressure and high cholesterol which lead to diabetes and other health problems (The Health Authority, 2010). By living healthy lives and being active people reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack, keep weight under control, and improves high cholesterol levels, as well exercise helps manage stress and depression which plague adults in the late stages of life. The Health Authority (2010) website indicates that exercise improves the ability for people to fall asleep quickly and well, increases muscle strength which deteriorates as the age of the adult progresses. In older people, exercise helps delay and prevents chronic illnesses and diseases which help maintain the quality of life and prolong the independence of the individual.

Cognitive Development
Memory skills and language skills are closely related. The thinking process is much slower and less sharp once a person reaches late adulthood which causes older adults find it difficult to retrieve knowledge from long-term memory which is part of the language processing, or apply strategies, and dismiss irrelevant information (Berk, 2010). Because of the delay in the process of retrieval of information one will notice that older adults will speak much slower and use simple words to communicate. Communicating with older adults takes much longer than communicating with an adult in the earlier stages of life, because older adults devote more time in organizing their thoughts. Problem solving skills deteriorates as aging progresses; the limits of memory in older adults make it difficult for adults to keep facts straight when making decisions (Berk, 2010). Older adults have much knowledge about life that the younger generations take for granted. This knowledge is called wisdom, “the ability to reflect on and apply that knowledge in ways that make life more bearable and worthwhile” (The Health Authority, 2010). An example of wisdom would be advising a teenager that drugs and alcohol bring nothing but problems and that parents should always be respected. Age goes hand in hand with wisdom, the longer one life the more experiences one has and the more knowledge is obtained.

Death and Coping
Death is natural part of everyday life and inevitable. Many older adults have come to accept the fact that death is near and live life to the fullest while others fear death and seclude themselves from loved ones and society. Past experiences in dealing with other stressful situations give an insight as to how people will copy with death. Culture influences the way a person reacts to how they perceive death as well social support from loved ones. Some cultures view death as a disruption of the balance of life, other believe that letting a terminally ill patient know the seriousness of the illness will bring death faster to the ill person (Berk, 2010). Having family support and contact reduces the stress of a dying patient, the contact makes the dying person less stressed about unresolved businesses and helps alleviate the guilt of leaving loved ones behind. Once a person passes loved ones are left with the grieving process. The grieving process that people go through happens in stages, avoidance, confrontation and restoration. According to Berk (2010), indicated that the grieving person should allow themselves to feel loss, accept support from friends and loved ones, be realistic of the course of grieving, remember the person that passed and invest in new activities and new relationships all part of continuing a healthy life. Every stage of life brings challenges and rewards but as age progresses more physical and psychological issues arise. Although some things like death are inevitable making changes to one’s life can prolong and prevent some of the aging affects such as deterioration of the body. It is never too late to make changes to one’s health and living styles, being healthy has many benefits especially to those that want better quality of life. Life can be very rewarding to those that do not take it for granted.

Berk, L. (2010). Development through the Lifespan. Retrieved from The Health Authority. (2010). Fitness. Retrieved from http://www.heal

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