Later adulthood is the period in which people come to terms with how much they have accomplished in life. It is usually a period of reflection and re-evaluation of their achievements and what they yearn to realize for the remainder of their lives. As such, it is crucial to examine this stage to fully understand the people in it and the elements surrounding later adulthood. Some of these factors include the changes in the role and social position that occurs in this phase, a comparison of the living conditions, like accessibility and the need for healthcare, and the adjustment and transition to retirement. Also, social policies affecting older adults and the alterations in marriage, peer relationships, and family are crucial factors.
Later adulthood is said to begin around the age of 65. In this stage, many of these persons experience numerous changes in their personality and social development. Many individuals in this phase get treated as inferior individuals by younger adults. The cause of this sentiment is because later adulthood is accompanied by deterioration in health, loss of acuity in senses, and cognitive changes such as loss of memory. Numerous challenges characterize later adulthood, but it also has rewarding experiences.
The older adults experience various changes in responsibilities and status. Society views older adults as useless and non-existent. They transition from being capable and productive workers to facing myths that those in this stage are incompetent, out of touch and less productive. As such, persons in this phase tend to have a lesser role and status compared to other adults (Lee, Boon, and Norhafidzah 2013). Many older adults begin to retire from their places of work due to intimidation and discrimination from the ever-changing workforce. It is essential to assign roles to these older adults since it promotes their productivity. Consequently, this discourages the stereotypic view that they are inactive, dependent and unfulfilled.
Additionally, it is imperative to analyze living places, such as their convenience and the need for healthcare. Good health care is a necessity to live longer, better and older. There are various health barriers that old adults face such as heart conditions, diabetes, and arthritis. Eighty percent of those in this stage require healthcare to cope with one of these barriers while sixty percent are surviving with three or more health conditions. Fifty percent of old adults suffer from multiple issues that require medical care. Health care is costly, and not all older adults can afford it. Nevertheless, several insurances offer help to these individuals.
Apart from medical care, it is imperative to provide decent accommodation to people in this phase. Currently, numerous nursing facilities are well-equipped in caring for the aged. In the past, these institutions were managed like establishments rather than homes, but this has changed. The new nursing facilities provide the older adults with everything they would require to enjoy their elderly years. However, many of them would prefer to live in their homes with their families. Lastly, accessibility such as guided aid in different places and discounts in areas such as stores is also important for older adults.
A transition to retirement is a major factor in any person’s life. Retirement involves a shift not only in roles but also as development and reinvention of previous career roles. For instance, a man who worked in a firm while his wife was taking care of household duties may exchange responsibilities with his spouse. Some people preserve their identity during retirement. Retirement does not make much difference to an individual who was active in their middle age since will most likely remain not change when they have retired (Luong, Charles, and Fingerman 2010). Furthermore, the social position of persons in retirement will continually expand because of the time spent building relationships with the community, family, and friends.
Older adults tend to get involved in part-time jobs or volunteer work. Thus, they have more time to focus on their social roles and personal relationships. Family responsibilities rarely interfere with their job though some take time off to take care of their spouses. Nevertheless, many lose their identity thereby losing their status in the society. For example, when a person is highly invested in their work, their personal relationships tend to suffer. Loss of identity can also be due to change in income or residence caused by retirement.
Older adults usually experience higher levels of fulfillment in their social relationships than younger people. Furthermore, they report having more positive sentiments than negative emotions with their social partners compared to younger adults. Individuals in this phase often receive adequate social support from their close social ties (Luong, Charles, and Fingerman 2010). Consequently, they develop better relationships with their children, friends, spouses, and peers. Older adults usually have less interpersonal conflicts that may affect their relationship with others. In the event of a conflict, they tend to take into consideration not only their reaction but also their partner’s. For example, during an argument people in this stage are more likely to express positive feelings compared to younger individuals.
Older adults experience this positive change in their social connections because they actively search for relationships that are most rewarding in their old age. Thus, they disband connections that are emotionally unfulfilling to them (ISSBD, 1982). The stage is characterized by people that restructure their associations to eliminate potentially problematic interactions. Apart from spouses and family, older adults have a smaller group of friends compared to other phases. Such small peer groups reduce social tensions that may arise with over interaction. Since they are cognizant of their limited time, older adults prefer to enjoy long lasting relationships with their social partners.
Medicare, Medicaid, and social securities are noteworthy policies in later adulthood development. They directly relate to the health and well-being of older adults. Nonetheless, policies relating to Older Americans Act, senior program funding cuts, access to preventive benefits, unemployment insurance and extensions of Medicare low-income protections should be highly monitored. The OAA is meant to modernize and strengthen aging services to meet the complex needs of older adults. Moreover, funding for seniors should be budgeted for appropriately to ensure that support is provided to the elderly in the form of insurance and other benefits. Policies regarding preventive benefits are often targeted by the Senate to be repealed because of budget cuts. However, these funds provide resources for chronic disease self-management programs while congregate meal schedules provide nutrition and assistance to seniors.
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In conclusion, later adulthood developments contain a series of elements related to the individual and society. Eventually, every person passes through this period in their life. In this stage of development, various alterations related to status, health, and relationships take place. Consequently, it is imperative that appropriate policies are formulated and maintained to ensure that seniors are not neglected. It is by caring for these older adults that they are encouraged to overcome the stereotypic view of the society thus aiding them to continue being valued and productive persons in the community.
- Lee, G. M., Boon, Y., & Norhafidzah, K. (2013). Late Adulthood Personality Development. Late Adulthood Personality Development. Retrieved January 3, 2017, from http://eprints.utm.my/41173/2/late.pdf
- Luong, G., Charles, S. T., & Fingerman, K. L. (2010). Better with age: Social relationships across adulthood. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28(1), 9-23. doi:10.1177/0265407510391362
- International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development. (1982). International Journal of Behavioral Development, 5(4), 515-515. doi:10.1177/016502548200500407