Friendship or interpersonal relationship Essay
Paper type: Essay
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The elderly in this study regarded friendship/interpersonal relationship differently and this difference was reflected in the data analysis. As suggested by the findings, many of them seemed not to be interested in getting closer or establishing friendship with others even with the co-residents of the home. Probably the theoretical reason behind this apparent ‘detachment’ could be found in the disengagement theory on aging.
It postulates that as people age, they progressively withdraw from social, physical, and emotional interaction with the world.
The long standing friendships from the past and the current friendship among the elderly in the home for the aged contributed much to the well-being/happiness of a little more than half of the total participants, the elderly. Friends appear to be most significant to older adults as a source of enjoyment, socializing, and talking about “good old times” which results in satisfaction with life (Campbell, 1976).
The findings expounded that only half of the participants had this influence of friendship on their life whereas the other half did not.
The following assertion of Pinquart, & Sorensen (2000) would explain this situation: As friends are typically members of the same age group and often share personal characteristics, cohort experiences, life styles; higher similarity in values and experiences may promote a higher satisfaction with friendships and thus a larger influence of friendship on SWB in old age. Authority and Caregivers.
The third meaningful relationship among the institutionalized elderly which gave satisfying results in their life was their relationhip with the people in responsibility or in other words the significant people in their present stage and situation of life. According to Carstensen et al. (1996, in Pinquart, & Sorensen, 2000) close and long-term contacts are important and give individuals a sense of stability in their past and anticipated future, especially among elderly persons. The findings in the study showed there was a general consensus that the elderly maintained a positive relationship with the authority.
It gave them a sense of importance, feeling of security and it affirmed their sense of worth. This friendly relationship seemed to be positively affecting the subjective experience of wellbeing of the institutionalized aged because as several studies have shown most elderly individuals expect emotional support from their children/family members (Ignersoll-Dayton & Antonicci, 1988), and this “invisible providers” are being substituted by the authority and the caregivers in the institutional set up. Besides, positive relationships are helpful in dealing with stressors, which in turn enhance SWB (Sorensen & Pinquart, 2000).
Studies have also established that people supported by close relationships with family, friends, or other support groups are less vulnerable to ill health and premature death (Doress-Worters & Siegel, 1994). Social Interest/Altruism The results reflected that social interest had considerable impact on the sense of wellbeing experienced by the elderly though not many in the home for the aged. The elderly’ interest in reaching out/altruism is supported by findings in the study done by Ryff (1989) on middle aged and older men and women.
His study had proven that altruism is highly correlated to sense of well-being as it gave a sense of meaning and fulfillment in the lives of the respondents. According to Thomas & Chambers (1989) empathy and altruism are manifestations of social interest and the greatest regret associated with decline of physical ability among the aged is the decreasing ability to engage in “social work. ” The findings showed what Victor Frankl said to be true: a sense of life meaning ensues when we learn to transcend ourselves, when we have forgotten ourselves and become absorbed in someone or something outside of us (As cited in West, 2000).
The findings also brought to light a reality that in general many of the elderly of the study were found to be more “self-oriented” than “other-oriented” and did not want to engage in any social activities notwithstanding the fact that many of them do reach out to others in their own limited capacity. This observation could be tied up with the disengagement theory that as people age they progressively withdraw from social, physical, and emotional interaction with the world. As they gradually disengage themselves, the society too withdraws from its engagement with the aging person.
Interestingly, a few of the elderly felt that they have already done enough and it was their time for rest and didn’t want to be socially involved in any way. This behavioral pattern found in the nature of the elderly could one way be justified the light of the observation made by Warr, Miles & Platts, (2001). Older people were found to be, for instance, more conscientious, traditional and careful in interaction with others, and less sociable, outgoing, change oriented and career oriented.
Given this milieu, the question arises, as other studies have already indicated if social interest or altruism is one of the contributing factors toward experiencing a subjective sense of well-being among the elderly, how this finding could be explained in the context of the elderly of this study. It is also questionable whether the reason for this withdrawal is due to their status transition, the experience of ‘dethronement’: and the message conveyed to them that they are no longer useful or wanted by the family and the society.
Butler et al. (1998) observed that ordinarily, elderly people regard institutionalization as a last resort as they perceive it is a kind of ‘abandonment. ’ This can result in a loss of self-esteem (Suh & Suh, 1999) of the once independent, proud, revered persons when they are dispelled into an insignificant existence in a home which is not their home. This is yet to be explored whether the disengagement of theory on aging happen to be a self-fulfilling prophecy in the lives of the elderly.