Aging occurs in every stage of life, and as adults grow older and move from one stage of adulthood to the next many new changes can occur in their everyday lives. The transition from middle adulthood to later adulthood can bring a whole new level of changes to an individual’s life. The aging process includes changes in roles and social positions, considering living accommodations with health care needs, transitioning from work life to retirement, changes in social policies, and changes in relationships with family members and peers.
As aging occurs individuals notice a numerous amount of changes in their lives. Some of those changes occur in their roles and social positions. As an individual ages they may begin to notice both physical and mental changes that decrease their ability to carry out activities in their daily routines. An individual who was once the leader of company meetings may notice that they are no longer able to hear or see things as well as they were before, and they may not be able to process their thoughts as quickly. They might also notice a delay in their reaction time. While some people may assume it is because of a medical issue, it could just be because of aging. As aging continues throughout later adulthood individuals may also notice changes in their physical appearances such as loose or wrinkly skin and a decrease in muscle tone.
Throughout life individuals may decide to move from one place to another to experience what it is like to live in a new place. As individuals age their health starts to decline, and in some cases, some families have to make the decision to put their loved ones in a nursing home or hire a nursing staff to do home visits. When the health of a loved one becomes an issue family members have to make sure they are getting the proper care they need to ensure their loved ones are safe and their health needs are being met. Some elderly individuals are able to go through life and not need any type of assistance caring for themselves, but some individuals get sick and cannot properly take care of themselves any longer. Alzheimer’s and Dementia are two of the worst diseases an individual can develop as they age.
Once Alzheimer’s or Dementia really set in the individual start to forget life as they previously knew it. They no longer recognize their family or friends and have a hard time remembering anything about their lives. According to the Alzheimer’s Association there are three stages to Alzheimer’s disease, the early, middle, and late stages. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease an individual may still function as well as they did before they knew they had the disease, “He or she may still drive, work, and be a part of social activities” (Alzheimer’s Association, 2015). According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “The middle stages of Alzheimer’s are typically the longest and can last for many years”.
The third, and final stage of Alzheimer’s, the late stages, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, “may last for several weeks or several years and requires intense are the clock care”. As Alzheimer’s progresses the individual may experience symptoms such as; anger, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, memory loss, confusion, repetition, and physical discomfort. As Alzheimer’s slowly starts to take over the individual it becomes harder and harder for both the individual and the family to deal with the changes that are occurring. That is why it is so important to make sure there is a trained medical professional on site at all times to care and comfort the individual dealing with the disease.
The transition from working life to retirement can be a difficult process for some adults as they struggle to accept the changes that will occur in their lifestyle. But, on the other hand, retirement can also be an enjoyable time for some adults as they see it as an opportunity to do things they love without having to worry about work interfering with their plans. Some aging adults have a hard time coping with the thought of retirement because of the drastic change in income and they do not know what to do with all the extra time they will have throughout the day. While the changes in income between a weekly or biweekly paycheck greatly differ from their previous profession and the amount of money received through social security, most employers offer a 401K savings plan to help with retirement and life after working.
Social policies were put in tact to ensure that anyone in need is able to have their needs met. These needs can include medical, nutritional, and income needs. The government has funded programs such as food stamps to help families all over the country provide food for their families. Other government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare are intact to help cover medical expenses for people who cannot afford health or dental insurance. When it comes to the elderly, social programs such as Social Security and the Older Americans Act were put intact to ensure the elderly (anyone aged sixty five or older) are able to financially support themselves. Social policies are a great way to ensure individuals are properly taken care of and are able to support themselves.
Family is forever, and nobody should ever feel as if they have to go through life alone. As we age it is important to remember how important our family and friends really are to us. We spend our whole lives searching for someone to spend the rest of our lives with and to build a family with, but as we age and people in our families start to die people begin to feel lonely. Losing a close family member or even a friend can leave individuals with a feeling of loneliness or even depression, “Most people seventy years of age or older are widowed, divorced, or single” (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010).
Grandparents and great- grandparents should never have to feel like they are unimportant or unwanted by their families. As individuals mature and go on with their own lives they should always continue to stay in touch with everyone in their family, but they should especially make sure their grandparents and older family members are healthy and well taken care of.
The changes that occur throughout our daily lives are preparing us for the next stage of life. As individuals age they experience new things and learn new things about themselves. Some people fear aging as they fear they will no longer be able to properly care for themselves any longer, but with the love and support from our families anything is possible. The aging process includes changes in roles and social positions, considering living accommodations with health care needs, transitioning from work life to retirement, changes in social policies, and changes in relationships with family members and peers. Aging is just one of the many aspects of life that everyone has to deal with, and it is up to us to determine how we want to deal with it and let it affect our everyday life.
Alzheimer’s Association. The Stages of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from: http://www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_4521.asp
U.S Department of Health and Family Services. Caring for Frail Elderly People: Policies in Evolution. Retrieved from: http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/chap14.htm
Zastrow, C.H. & Kirst-Ashman, K.K. (2010). Understanding Human Behavior and the Social Environment (8th Ed.)