Aging Inequality

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
When most people think about growing older in today’s fast paced, multitasking, social networking life style of modern society. Many think about retiring to the life they all have dreamed about. Many also think of moving to a new city, traveling, or maybe just taking it easy and enjoying life at a much slower and relaxed pace while “staying in the homes where they lived while working and raising their children” (JM 127). However many do not consider the problems that may come along with growing older such as “Retirement, Social Isolation or Abuse” (JM 119). Also many are not financially prepared for the ever increasing life expectancy of today’s elders, those of sixty-five and beyond; “the origin of this arbitrary age is the Social Security Act of 1935 which established sixty-five as the age of retirement” (DH).

Submitted: August 04, 2012

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Submitted: August 04, 2012

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When most people think about growing older in today’s fast paced, multitasking, social networking life style of modern society.  Many think about retiring to the life they all have dreamed about.  Many also think of moving to a new city, traveling, or maybe just taking it easy and enjoying life at a much slower and relaxed pace while “staying in the homes where they lived while working and raising their children” (JM 127).  However many do not consider the problems that may come along with growing older such as “Retirement, Social Isolation or Abuse” (JM 119).  Also many are not financially prepared for the ever increasing life expectancy of today’s elders, those of sixty-five and beyond; “the origin of this arbitrary age is the Social Security Act of 1935 which established sixty-five as the age of retirement” (DH). 

Although many think of “growing old” and “growing up” in biological terms, sociologists have divided the “elderly into three categories”.  People who are “sixty-five to seventy-four are considered the younger old” this group enjoys “good health and lives independently” (JM 119).  The second group of people aged from “seventy-five to eighty-four….are the ‘older old’” this group is likely to need more health services to live a comfortable life (JM 119).  And the “’Oldest old’ aged eighty-five and older” is the quickest growing age group in society, and often times needs the most help (JM 119).  This trend, in increased “life expectancy” is a result of better medical care, sanitation, nutrition, and housing improvements (DH).  How long a person lives is also influenced by their socioeconomic status, the higher the social class the longer the person lives and the greater the likelihood of success in adapting to retirement.

There is no proven “formula for a satisfying retirement” (JM 122).  There are countless television commercials warning people to plan for retirement, however, what people can do with their retirement largely depends on their health and finances.  People are now more cautious about “giving up paid work …and are retiring in small steps, a pattern called staged retirement” (JM 121).  Employers play a big part in successful retirement, by allowing employees to retire in steps while other companies “simply push older workers out the door” (JM 122).  In 1935 the United States government set the retirement age at sixty-five but today many people live long after that, recognizing the increasing life expectancy, in “1987 Congress passed legislation phasing out mandatory retirement policies in 1994” (JM 122).  With the increased life expectancy of elders many retirement plans and company pension programs are insufficient to provide necessities for a comfortable life.  With the introduction of Social Security in the 1930’s it has provided significant aid to the elderly including life insurance benefits and Income for more than half the retired people in the United States.  The Social Security program also has serious problems despite the help it provides.  Thirty percent of the elderly who depend on Social Security benefits for income are still below the poverty line.  And the constant rise of medication makes many choose between keeping the power and heat on in their homes and the much needed medication they require. 

Those who retire after an intense working life, having made occupational friendships, may find it difficult to rebuild a network of friends and may become socially isolated.  It is therefore important to educate for the transition to retirement with the focus being that it is not the end of life.  Social isolation is widely seen as being linked to loneliness, it was emphasized that the main thing giving rise to this feeling is not being connected to others and not having a sense of belonging.  And making new friends is not always easy, in “social clubs seniors often form cohesive groups especially if they have known each other for a long time and this being protective of each other might make it difficult for an interloper to fit in” (DH).  Social isolation impacts every aspect of seniors health including mood, well-being and may lead to depression which can then cause more introversion and disconnection that in turn can result in the decline in physical and general health.  The effect of this is stronger if they have poor health or are becoming “increasingly house-bound or if they have lost a spouse or partner” (DH).  With the aging of seniors the possibility of the loss of a partner increases and this “renders them more vulnerable to loneliness with all of its associated issues” and risk (DH).  The system counts on families being there for support for the elderly but families are not always available or are simply not there.  As seniors age their children age also, or even die and may not be able to provide the support they once gave.

As elders become more physically frail, they may not see or hear as well or think as clearly as they used to, leaving openings for people to take advantage of them.  Thousands of seniors are being abused or harmed in some way often by the people who are responsible for their care.  Often time’s abuse comes in the form of neglect or abandonment by caregivers, by failure to fulfill a caretaking obligation, or financial exploitation which involves unauthorized use of an elderly person’s fund or property.  Elderly abuse tends to take place where the senior lives most often in the home of their adult children or other family member.  Institutional settings such as long-term care facilities can be sources of elder abuse do to neglect.  Media “exposure to abuse in nursing homes facilities led to the definition of abused elderly as a problem and the passage of the 1990 Nursing Home Reform Act” (MM).  

As in other areas of life, “how a person views the problems of the elderly is guided by that person’s political view” (JM 134).  Many women and men are living longer which means that many families are raising young children and caring for their aging parents at the same time.  Conservatives see a healthy society as one “built on strong families in which people care for one another” (JM 134).  They argue that we much reject a “me first culture that makes many younger people unwilling to take on family responsibilities” (JM 134).  Liberals remind us that “many of today’s families depend on the earning of both spouses just to meet their own needs” how can we expect them to help support their aging parents as well (JM 135).  The greatest fear that many older people have is becoming a burden to their children. 

 


 


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