As adults enter the stage of later adulthood, many changes will begin to develop for each person. The aging process includes transitioning from work life to retirement, changes to roles, social positions, social policies, determining living accommodations with healthcare needs, and relationships with families and peers. The stage known as the golden years comes with great challenges while adjusting to the many changes in a person’s life. (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010). Transition from work to retirement
The transition from a working life to the retirement years can be a difficult process for aging adults as giving up higher salaries for the amount paid for Social Security is drastically different. Forcing retired adults to look for supplement income during this stage at a lower status than previously held in a prior position. Most companies offer a pension or 401k plan to help employees plan for a better retirement as it is almost impossible to live on Social Security alone. This change also plays a large factor on how the individual views their personal self-worth. Instead of priding themselves in the knowledge of an occupation, retirement forces the person to give up that role in search of another source to occupy their time. (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010). Transition from work to retirement Cont.
Retirement can be an enjoyed time for some older adults as they see it as the first time since childhood they are able to do the things they want in life without worrying about the limits caused by a profession. Others will struggle to figure out to do with all the extra time during each day. Depending greatly on the attitude a person had toward the many years spent employed and the ability to continue financially supporting the extracurricular items they would like to partake in during retirement. Personal well-being plays a large factor in how the adult will handle the retirement years and determine additional health issues a person may face. With a solid retirement plan continuing to support the person financially, this can be a joyous time while others learning to live on a fixed income will notices significant changes to their overall health. These changes are brought on by depression, a feeling of no longer being needed, or the bored from not having a specific task for everyday living. (Allen, Clark, & Ghent, 2004). Changes in role and social position
As aging progresses people begin to lose their role and social positions caused by the changes to activities, each person is involved in and illnesses the elderly develop. The lack of physical and mental activities begins to decrease psychomotor skills that affect various aspects of daily living. When people start aging the changes in the ability to see and hear begin to decline making it appear as if the person suffers from a decline in mental competency, which may not be the case and it just takes an older person longer to process the information that is given to them. Physically the changes to a person’s body will begin in middle adulthood with the most noticeable happening in later adulthood. Physical changes in muscle tone and height along with a slower understanding of the world around them creates the perception of the older adult as a weaker person in the eyes of their loved ones and is the time when health issues become more noticeable. (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010). Changes in role and social position Cont.
As reaction times slowdown, the elderly begin to lose privileges like driving because the reaction time is greatly affected and is thought to be the cause of additional accidents. Driving is, usually, the first task removed from a person when they are no longer able to operate a vehicle safely without endangering the lives of others. Once a person begins to experience this normal task being taken away from them it causes the person to become dependent on families or friends to help with their daily needs, and decreases the feeling of self-sufficiency, which causes the change to the role a person has in society. (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010). Changes in marriage, family and peer relationships
Later adulthood is the time in life when changes in marriage, families, and peer relationships are affected the most by the loss of someone close to that person. “Most people 70 years of age or older are widowed, divorced, or single” (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010, p.619). Losing a spouse or close friend can create a sense of loneliness, which causes depression, anxiety and the emptiness feeling can become overwhelming. Depression also leads to psychological effects that will deteriorate a person’s health causing the chance for a terminal disease to become much higher. The weaker appearance of older adults causes family and remaining peers to step up in the role of making sure the person’s wellbeing is being met. (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010). Living accommodations and healthcare needs
Declining health and depression are two of the largest reasons families look into assisted living homes for aging loved ones. Making sure that the healthcare needs of the elderly are met becomes a priority for every family as the roles begin to reverse from the parent being the primary caregiver of their children to the children being responsible for meeting the needs of aging parents. Diseases such Alzheimer’s and dementia are very difficult for not only the older person but for their families as well. As a person with this disease is no longer able to live on their own without the fear of something bad happening while no one else is around to watch over them. The disease affects all normal aspects of a person’s life, creating confusion, aggressive behaviors, incontinence, and the inability to meet the daily needs without supervision making it necessary to find a facility that will meet the needs of the patient. (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010). Finding a facility that will meets all the needs of the older adult and have a level of care that the family desires can be difficult to find. Researching all facilities in the area will help keep a peace of mind for the family and reassure that their loved ones are receiving the care they need. Medical programs
Healthcare for older adults is expensive, and since many are living on fixed incomes, they rely on programs such as Medicaid and Medicare to meet their medical needs. Due to the economic status of the government and the high cost of medical care, both of these programs now provide limited services to older adult. The quality of medical care older people will receive will also be lessened as many primary care physicians focus their practice on younger generations, creating an inability to correctly diagnose problems in older adulthood. Treating younger people allows the physicians to make more money off the current Medicare programs because of the limitations in place to restrict additional procedures when needed. (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010). Social policies affecting older adults
Social policies were created to aid the aging population meet medical, daily and income needs. The Older Americans Act of 1965 was created to ensure that older adults receive benefits of income, adequate housing, community services, and nutrition programs. (Gelfand, & Bechill, 1991). The Supplement Security Income program was designed to provide additional income after retirement for the individuals that worked the required amount of years to receive full benefits. Medicare plans are split into a two-part system that will pay for limited medical expenses incurred after retirement. Part A of the plan pays for limited care during hospital stays, nursing homes, and home health care when needed, while Part B covers physician expenses and out-patient services. Throughout the years, many changes have been made to the policies because of changes in presidency and budget cuts to the federally funded programs. (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010). Conclusion
The changes that occur for the older adult population make it necessary for extensive planning during the middle adulthood stage, for retirement and reflecting on how each individual will provide their basic needs when the time comes. Plans will help to ease the stress of aging, put less of a burden on family members, and make sure that the elderly receive the medical attention they need without relying on government assisted programs. Maintaining a presence in social groups will help the overall mental and physical status of the aging population. The future is up to each person to control how they want to live during the last stage of life. (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010).
Allen, S. G., Clark, R. L., & Ghent, L. S. (2004). Phasing into retirement. The Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 58(1), 112-127. Gelfand, D.E., & Bechill, W. (1991, Summer-Fall). The evolution of the older Americans act: a 25-year review of the legislative changes. Generations, 15(3), 19-22. Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2010). Understanding Human Behavior and the Social Environment (8th ed.). Mason , Ohio: Brooks Cole/Cengage.