As a part of research on understanding different perspectives of ageing, in this exercise I made a small attempt by comparing the perspectives of three people belonging different age group regarding ageing and its effect. These three people were (myself as researcher and participant, 10-years younger Sam and 10 years older Mary) were interviewed with questions on ageing to understand their perspective about what is ageing and their personal knowledge about life in old age.
Sam is my neighbour aged 20 years and Mrs. Mary is 40 years old lady working as a colleague in my father’s office. She is also a good friend of my father. The interview sessions conducted were face-to-face to examine their perceptions about ageing and experience.
As per studies of Villar (2012), ageing perspectives may vary from people to people belonging different ages, colour, cast, creed, profession etc. The ageing perspective can be negative, neutral or positive with respect to factors affecting perspectives. This concept was completely justified in this interview exercise. The three people in interview session completely share three different perspectives about ageing. As per Sam being a 20-year aged young adult, old age is a burden highlighting a negative perception. Sam develops this perception by his own personal experience from old age people living around him. As per his perception, old age is a stage of dependency, illness and crisis, which is always unhappy and miserable. Sam experience about people living around him makes him assume that his old age will also be similar. Lloyd-Sherlock et al. (2012) indicated that the negative perception about old age is always stronger in young adult because of their lacking experience and responsibilities in life.
Further, I hold a neutral perception about ageing because of knowledge and experience. As per my viewpoint, old age is a mixture of negative and positive experience where people are old when they themselves consider their age as old. Old age is the time to enjoy peace but simultaneously it is the time of dependency and crisis. As I am a student of gerontology, the knowledge and experience about ageing help to develop this mixed perception. Further, Miss. Mary being a mature adult attains a positive perception about old age because she is known to the responsibilities and experience of being an adult. As per Mary, old age is a peaceful stage to enjoy once own self. However, Mary also highlights that old age accompany certain financial and physical dependency but if individual plans a secure future then surely old age is an enjoyable stage of life.
Villar (2012) studied that public perception about ageing and its experience varies from person to person depending on factors like age, social status, religion, cast, colour and much more. The negative perception about old age is common in children and adolescence. As per research, children of UK, US and China share negative attitudes towards old age whereas 70% adult consider old age as warm, kind, motherly and sincere stage of life. Similar, fact was justified in the interview session above where Sam (young adult) having no experience of life considered ageing as a darker phase of life whereas in contrast, Mary being mature adult consider old age as a peaceful stage of life. However, Caspersen et al. (2012) opine that most of the people try to rate old age as positive from some dimensions of life whereas negative on other dimensions. Therefore as a whole old age is just like any other stage of life holding its own pros and cons. Similarly, as per experience from this interview session, perceptions about old age vary from people to people depending on factors affecting its perception.
The Young Old (e.g., 60s–70s)
The young old age is considered the best phase of ageing where people usually enjoy the changes from adulthood. Makai et al. (2014) considered young old age as the healthy ageing phase where the health and social status of people support a change in lifestyle. People generally get retired in this age having social involvement and financial stability. Further, 50% of young old people have good nutritional intake, body and mind balance allowing a healthy lifestyle. Gine-Garriga et al. (2014) performed a research on psychological factors affecting healthy ageing among 171 participants between age 60 to 80 years. As per research findings, healthy ageing is affected by health status, self-esteem and cognitive stability that was more in people between 60 to 70 compared to older once.
The Healthy Old (e.g., 80s–90s)
The healthy old between age group 80 to 90 years has a physically, mentally and socially stable life. However, the percentage of healthy old people is very less globally because health risk life senses impairment, cardiovascular arrest, diabetes and depression is very prominent in this age between 80 to 90 years (Birren et al. 2014). Further, Makai et al. (2014) studied about health factors that are prominent in healthy old people yet do not affect their health and longevity. These factors are appetite loss, decreasing taste, lacking nutrition absorption, menopause, prostate issues and nutritional imbalance. Further, social factors affecting healthy old age are financial issues, lacking mobility and social isolation.
Frail Older People in the community
The health factors related to frail older people in the community involve risk to cardiovascular arrest, musculoskeletal disabilities, sensory impairment, incontinence, reproductive breakdown and psychological disturbance. Makai et al. (2014) studied that frail old people lack normal ADL’s (activities of daily living) having a dependency on other that creates social isolation and psychological depression. Gine-Garriga et al. (2014) studied that bad health affects the quality of life in ageing that leads to frail old people having disturbed social and mental state.
Older People in long-term residential care
The old age people living in long-term residential care generally suffer social isolation due to rejection from their family and society. Gine-Garriga et al. (2014) indicated that 50% of old age living in residential care develop health defects like depression, sensory impairment, disability, anxiety and other health issues due to disturbed state of mind. The old people living in residential care generally face issues like financial and physical dependency. De Rezende et al. (2014) indicated that they are most vulnerable to abnormal psychological ageing. As per data of 2011-2012, 8,357,100 old age people are living in residential care in Australia.
Older Aboriginal People
Makai et al. (2014) studied that social conditions of aboriginal people are the reason that harnesses the old aboriginal quality of life. The poor socio-economic background, lack of education, social isolation, lacking medical facilities and economic instability affects the health of older aboriginal people facing issues like health problems and financial crisis in old age. According to Gine-Garriga et al. (2014), the possible risk factors related to old aboriginal people are trauma, grief, physical health problems, violence, substance abuse, social disadvantage and cultural discrimination.
Older People from different cultural backgrounds
The older people having different cultural backgrounds are generally affected by their religious beliefs, values and perceptions that can be positive or negative for their health depending on situations. For example- some religions not allowing animal protein can become a hurdle in the treatment process of many serious diseases. Some cultures even consider medicine as a restriction due to chemical activities involved in the body. Further, Makai et al. (2014) indicated that some native Australian cultures avoid the use of contemporary medical services and treatment leading to ill health outcomes.
Birren, J. E., Lubben, J. E., Rowe, J. C., & Deutchman, D. E. (Eds.). (2014). The concept and measurement of quality of life in the frail elderly. Academic Press.
De Rezende, L. F. M., Rey-López, J. P., Matsudo, V. K. R., & do Carmo Luiz, O. (2014). Sedentary behavior and health outcomes among older adults: a systematic review. BMC public health, 14(1), 333.
Gine-Garriga, M., Roqué-Fíguls, M., Coll-Planas, L., Sitjà-Rabert, M., & Salvà, A. (2014). Physical exercise interventions for improving performance-based measures of physical function in community-dwelling, frail older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 95(4), 753-769.
Makai, P., Brouwer, W. B., Koopmanschap, M. A., Stolk, E. A., & Nieboer, A. P. (2014). Quality of life instruments for economic evaluations in health and social care for older people: a systematic review. Social Science & Medicine, 102, 83-93.
Caspersen, C. J., Thomas, G. D., Boseman, L. A., Beckles, G. L., & Albright, A. L. (2012). Ageing, diabetes, and the public health system in the United States. American journal of public health, 102(8), 1482-1497.
Lloyd-Sherlock, P., McKee, M., Ebrahim, S., Gorman, M., Greengross, S., Prince, M., ... & Ferrucci, L. (2012). Population ageing and health. The Lancet, 379(9823), 1295-1296.
Villar, F. (2012). Successful ageing and development: The contribution of generativity in older age. Ageing and Society, 32(07), 1087-1105.
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