Supporting The Elderly Essay

1040 words - 4 pages

As adults the transition into old age can be difficult for some people. Frustration, lack of responsibility and dependence can make the process of aging undesirable. Old age should be viewed as another phase of life, but not the end of life. In order to help elderly cope with aging it is important for them to have social interaction. Support from family, friends and the local community can make a difference in the psychological well being of older adults.

There is great concern for the increasing amount of elderly people without children. Childlessness can not be directly linked to loneliness and depression in the elderly, but there is some evidence that it can have an effect on their psychological well being. According to an article in The Journals of Gerontology, "Wachter (1997) estimated that about 25% of the elderly persons aged 70-85 years in 2030 will not have a living spouse, living children, or living stepchildren"(Zhang and Hayward, 2001). That number of childless elderly is cause for alarm, because children are an important source of support. Children can serve as emotional, physical, and financial support for elderly parents. As stated in the article, social isolation and low levels of social support are important risk factors for depression and mortality (Cappeliez & Flynn, 1993) (Zhang and Hayward, 2001). A support network of friends and neighbors is helpful, but they do not provide the same level of commitment and support that children would. Another factor to consider is that childlessness can affect each sex differently. Women more often than men see the role of parenthood a very important part of life. Loneliness is more likely to be an outcome of not having children than depression. Results of the study show that the affects childlessness can vary depending on the situation of the older person. One example is that "childlessness would be more likely to have negative consequences for single persons because childlessness, in addition to the lack of a spouse, narrows the social support network." (Zhang and Hayward, 2001). Although the main effects of childlessness are minimal in this study for older persons, it can not be ruled out that childlessness has no direct effect on the psychological wellbeing of older people.

The aspect of well being can differ, but is still important for rural elderly. An article in Sex Roles, "Compared to their urban counterparts, rural elders experience significant threats to their economic, physical, and psychological well-being" (Patrick, Cortells, and Barnes, 1993.) Factors such as age, gender, education, income, and marital status, can be predictors of well-being. More important though is social support. Socialization differences in men and women can produce varying results of positive or negative well being. Women are more emotionally supportive and have a larger network of support. Men do not rely on friends as much and are more withdrawn. In the article, Gender, emotional support, and...

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