Aging in our society can be a very stressful time regarding our elderly. They are going through tremendous changes not only physically, emotionally, but also socially. It is in our best interest to help them make the proper adjustments during what can be a difficult time for some. Retirement is not always the best thing for our senior citizens. It can be a trying time as they no longer feel useful. We need to insure they remain productive by maintaining relationships with friends and family, volunteering, finding a hobby, and most important maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Because our society is so obsessed with youth, many of our senior citizens feel left out. In Japan, they treat their elders with the utmost respect. (Maslow, Kirst 2010). It is our turn to treat our senior citizens with the same respect instead of shunning them from society. At times their living accommodations are not suitable and the amount of healthcare they may need can cause stress in their lives.
Their relationships with their spouses, children, friends, and coworkers change dramatically. It can be a difficult transition and is up to us to make sure they can ease into later adulthood with positive attitudes and a foundation of hope for their future. In their later adulthood years, the elderly experience changes in their roles and social position. Upon retirement, many aging individuals may withdraw from their social network circle. This may happen when the individual is not ready to retire and resents being forced to retire. They begin to feel unwanted and feel they no longer have anything in common with their friends. Our society does not incorporate the elderly desires of remaining productive which may cause them to disengage in socializing with their peers.
Their social status changes from teacher, pharmacist, and store manager to perhaps a regular Joe in the neighborhood. This can impact their mentality and their ability to maintain a positive attitude during retirement. One of the best ways for the elderly to continue to feel worthy during their later years is perhaps volunteering and influencing our youth with their knowledge and wisdom. Determining the best suited living accommodations for the elderly can be a daunting task for their loved ones. Many elderly are determined to stay in their homes living independently and if they are not ill than that option may work for them. There are many factors that determine if they can stay in their home.
Do they have transportation? Are they close to stores and medical care? If their loved one has health issues and requires medical attention around the clock than a nursing home would be their best option. Another option would be a retirement community, senior apartments or senior homes. Trying to find the best living accommodation for the elderly to spend their days living productive lives is very important. They also need access to affordable healthcare. Many elderly are plagued with health issues and cannot afford prescriptions or doctor visits. They do benefit from senior citizen discounts but it is not enough to cover all their medical expenses. Our society needs to find a better solution in terms of our aging population and health care needs. Kim & Moen stated” On the one hand, the retirement experience may promote a sense of well-being, as workers move out of demanding and/or stressful career jobs.
On the other hand, the retirement passage itself may lead to diminished well-being, as individuals lose their occupational attachments, their social network of coworkers, and a major anchor for their identities.” (Headnote, para 2). Regarding our aging population, the most difficult time for them can be transitioning from working all their life to retirement. Our society has stressed the importance of youth and our elderly start to feel useless. Going into to retirement can cause more burdens on the elderly. By living on a fixed income and not being able to spend on eating out, movies, or even vacationing can takes its toll on the elderly. They can become depressed, which can then lead to suicidal thoughts. Another factor of going into retirement is the elderly may lose contact with coworkers since they no longer have work to discuss, they start to avoid contact with friends.
Many elderly couples may not get along during retirement, they are not accustomed to being around their loved ones all day and this can cause problems in their marriage. Our society needs to encourage our elderly to remain productive after retirement so they can feel needed and participate in volunteer programs offered in their communities. If they are able to work and can continue to contribute to society, it will be a positive situation for everyone including our economy. There are many factors that can contribute to our elderly populations marital, family and peer relationships. During retirement, an elderly couple may experience more marital strife as they are attempting to get used to being home all day. Their health also plays a part on their marital relationship. If one partner is ill, than the other partner has to care for the ill partner and this will cause stress.
As couples, our elderly may not have the bond the once had at a younger age. They need to maintain a close relationship and focus on their positive aspects of their relationship. Regarding their own children, some elderly attempt to withdraw and not maintain close relationships with their children or grandchildren. Some will engage more and try to interfere in raising their grandchildren, which will cause problems with their own children. In their peer relationships, they may withdraw also. It does depend on the individual and their circumstances on how they handle the important relationships in their lives. Bookwala and Franks (2005) found that having a successful marriage will enhance the physical wellbeing of elderly couples as they progress into their golden years.
There are many social policies impacting our aging population. Many of these social policies were designed to assist our elderly during their retirement years. “One out of ten older people live in poverty.” (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010, para. Financial Problems of Older People). This information demonstrates the dire situation our elderly are experiencing. How are they able to make ends meet if they have no savings and living entirely on Social Security benefits? Another factor is the cost of healthcare that many aging individuals have to deal with. If they are in poor health and are in need of constant doctor supervision and medicine, they are relying on the governments Medicaid program and at times this can cause added stress in their lives. If their health is deteriorating, it makes sense that we need to implement new strategies to assist the elderly with aging.
We should also encourage them to work if they are physically fit and able instead of discriminating against them based on their age. Our focus should be campaigning for them to engage in exercise, eating healthy and maintaining an active lifestyle throughout their lives to delay the effects of aging. In order for our elderly to continue progressing in later adulthood, our society needs to change our way thinking. We should encourage elderly people to work and be productive.
A national campaign for our elders should address the benefits of physical fitness, eating right, and maintaining close relationships with their loved ones. We should make them feel wanted and treat them with the utmost respect. They have lived life, have wisdom and experience to share with everyone. By incorporating those into volunteer programs will also be highly beneficial for everyone involved. Making sure they are happy and living in acceptable conditions should also be our concern. Now is the time, to turn the tables around and ensure that we are doing our best to take care for our aging population.
Bookwala, J., & Franks, M.M. (2005). Moderating role of marital quality in older adults depressed affect: Beyond the main-effects model. The Journal of Gerontology, 60B (6), p.338-p.341. Kim, J.E., & Moen, P. (2002). Retirement transitions, gender, and psychological well-being: a life course, ecological model. The Journal of Gerontology, 57B (3), p.212-p.222. Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K.K. (2010). Understanding Human Behavior & the Social Environment (8th ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database