Sociology Chapter 15: Aging and the Elderly

the study of aging and the elderly
age stratification
the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and privilege among ppl at different ages of the life course
a form of social organization in which the elderly have the most wealth, power, and prestige
informal and unpaid care provided to a dependent person by family members, other relatives, or friends
prejudice and discrimination against older people
*like racism and sexism, ageism builds physical traits into stereotypes that make unfair generalizations about all elderly people
“Graying of the U.S.”
means that the average age of the U.S. population is steadily going up
median age in the 1900
23; elderly were 4% of the population
by 2040 the median age will be
almost 40 and the elderly population will by 20%
Elderly population increasing in high-income countries like the U.S. because
*birth rates have been falling as families choose to have fewer children
*life expectancy has been rising as living standards improve and medical advances reduce deaths from infectious diseases
____________ and __________ changes are associated with aging
Biological; Psychological
psychological research confirs that growing old does not result in….
*overall loss of intelligence
*major changes in personality
Although aging is a biological process, how elderly people are regarded by society is a matter of _____________
The age at which people are defined as old varies:
* until several centuries ago, old age began as early as 30
*in poor societies today, where life expectancy is low, people become old at 50 or even 40
Age stratification and the elderly
*in hunting/gathering societies- survival depends on physical stamina-the very young/very old contribute less to society
*in agrarian societies -elders are typically the most privileged and respected members of society (gerontocracy)
*industrial/postindustrial societies- the social standing of the elderly is low because the fast pace of social change is dominated by the young
personal Challenges of Aging
*the realization ones life is nearing an end
*social isolation caused by death of friends or a spouse
*reduced social prestige and a loss of purpose in life d/t retirement
poverty and the elderly
*risk rises after midlife
*poverty rate for the elderly has declined since 1960
*aged poor include -single women and people of color (who are at high risk of poverty at any age)
*some retired ppl have had to return to work in order to make ends meet d/t recent economic downturn
caregiving and the elderly
*is increasing in our aging society
* at least 1 million elderly are victims of elder abuse yearly
The elderly population in nearly all high-income nations has been increasing rapidly. T or F
Rising birth rates is a major factor in driving up the elderly population.
In general, higher-income nations have the largest share of elderly people in their populations.
Increasing longevity is a major factor driving up the elderly population.
In the United States, males typically outlive females.
The median age of the U.S. population now stands at twenty years
The “old-age dependency ratio” refers to the ratio of non-working elderly people to working-age adults.
As the elderly population of the United States increases, the physical and social segregation of the elderly will almost certainly decline.
The “young old” refers to people under the age of fifty-five
over 75yo
The elderly population of Japan is increasing rapidly; at the same time, that country’s overall population is projected to decline.
Gerontology is the study of aging and the elderly.
Older people typically report a loss of sensory abilities, such as hearing.
As people get older, their personalities change so that people who knew them years before would say they are not the same person
Seniors with higher incomes assess their own health as better compared to seniors with lower incomes.
Societies throughout the world often define their oldest members in negative terms.
Today, life expectancy is about fifty years in the lowest-income countries.
Age stratification refers to inequality among elderly people.
In hunting and gathering societies, older members are considered to be a valuable resource to the group.
In horticultural, pastoral, and agrarian societies, the oldest members have the greatest wealth and power.
Gerontocracy is a form of social organization in which the oldest members of a society have the greatest wealth and power
In general, industrialization raises the relative social standing of the elderly.
In the United States, most elderly men, but not most elderly women, live alone
Bernice Neugarten states that the key to successful aging is maintaining personal dignity as a person accepts the inevitability of advancing age.
Social isolation is a greater problem for elderly women than for elderly men.
Elderly people were more likely to retire a century ago than they are today.
The economic downturn that began in 2007 has forced many older workers to postpone retirement and to continue working.
Poverty rates among the U.S. elderly have increased in recent decades.
Of all age categories, people over the age of sixty-five have the highest poverty rate.
Women are more likely than men to visit and care for their elderly parents.
Elder abuse is a form of family violence that often goes unreported to police.
Ageism is the belief that the oldest people are the wisest and should have the most power.
Disengagement theory is guided by the symbolic-interaction approach.
Activity theory states that a high level of activity enhances personal satisfaction in old age
Social-conflict analysis points to ways in which the elderly are socially disadvantaged.
Modern, high-income societies tend to separate death from living.
Euthanasia refers to providing comfort and care to a person who has a terminal illness.
The number of senior citizens in the United States
a. already outnumbers teenagers.
b. increased tenfold over the last century.
c. will double again by 2040.
d. All of these are correct.
The share of the elderly population is increasing quickly in
a. the world’s poorest nations.
b. all the world’s nations.
c. the world’s high-income nations.
d. the United States, but not elsewhere.
Causes for the increase in the proportion of the population that is elderly include
a. increases in both the birth rate and life expectancy.
b. decreases in both the birth rate and life expectancy.
c. a decreasing birth rate and increasing life expectancy.
d. an increasing birth rate and decreasing life expectancy.
The median (middle case) age of the U.S. population currently is about
a. 17 years.
b. 37 years.
c. 57 years.
d. 67 years.
Assume you have a business that provides products to older people. Looking ahead, you have reason to expect
a. increasing sales, because your target population is increasing in size.
b. decreasing sales, because your target population is getting smaller.
c. little change in sales, because your target population will remain stable.
d. that your target population will increasingly be men
The concept of “old-age dependency ratio” refers to
a. the ratio of children to elderly people.
b. the ratio of elderly women to elderly men.
c. the ratio of working-age adults to non-working elderly people.
d. the ratio of people over age sixty-five to those under forty.
In the future, Japan’s population will
a. become smaller.
b. grow older, on average.
c. be supported by a smaller labor force.
d. All of these are correct.
Compared to the “young old,” the “old old” in the United States
a. contains a larger share of women.
b. is richer.
c. has better health.
d. All of these are correct.
Across the United States, there is a higher percentage of people who are elderly in which region of the country?
a. the East coast
b. the Midwest and Plains states
c. the West coast
d. the Gulf coast
The concept of “gerontology” refers to
a. estimating people’s life expectancy.
b. a medical specialty dealing with old people.
c. the study of aging and the elderly.
d. a treatment that restores vitality to seniors.
Biological changes that accompany growing old include
a. less keen senses.
b. loss of height and weight.
c. wrinkles in the skin and graying of the hair.
d. All of these are correct.
A majority of people over the age of sixty-five in the United States
a. consider their health “good” or “excellent.”
b. report having trouble walking.
c. are bedridden.
d. are receiving intensive care in a hospital or nursing home.
In general, seniors with higher incomes
a. have more health problems than people with lower incomes.
b. assess their health in better terms than people with lower incomes.
c. have the same level of health as people with lower incomes.
d. die earlier due to high consumption of rich foods.
With advancing age, older people notice
a. loss of height and weight.
b. less keen sensory abilities, including taste, sight, and hearing.
c. that minor injuries take longer to heal.
d. All of these are correct
Research suggests that, by and large, people reaching old age
a. become more positive about life.
b. become more negative about life.
c. think and feel much the same about life as they did when they were
d. have high levels of depression.
What effect did industrialization have on life expectancy in the United States and Western Europe?
a. Life expectancy went up.
b. There was little effect on life expectancy.
c. Life expectancy went down.
d. Life expectancy rose for women but fell for men.
In global terms, life expectancy is
a. highest in the lowest-income countries.
b. about the same everywhere, but higher for women than for men.
c. about the same everywhere, but higher for men than for women.
d. highest in the highest-income countries
In general, industrialization has what effect on the social standing of the elderly in relation to younger people?
a. It reduces the social standing of seniors.
b. There is little or no effect.
c. It raises the social standing of seniors.
d. It raises the social standing of older men but reduces it for women.
How does industrialization change patterns of working for income for people over the age of sixty-five?
a. People continue working for as long as they can.
b. People begin to retire from paid work, often by about age sixty-five.
c. People come to see retirement from paid work as a sign of weakness.
d. The peak earning years shift later into the sixties and seventies.
The concept “gerontocracy” refers to a society in which
a. there is a pronounced “youth culture.”
b. the richest people have most of the power and prestige.
c. religious leaders have the most power.
d. the oldest people have the most wealth, power, and prestige.
The type of society that typically operates as a gerontocracy is
a. hunting and gathering.
b. industrial.
c. pastoral, horticultural, or agrarian.
d. postindustrial.
Age stratification is found in which of the following types of societies?
a. hunting and gathering
b. horticultural and pastoral
c. industrial
d. All of these are correct.
Which of the following statements about the living arrangements of the elderly in the United States is correct?
a. Most men live with spouses; women are about equally likely to live with a spouse or to live alone.
b. Most men live in nursing homes or other assisted-living facilities; most women live alone.
c. Most women live in nursing homes or other assisted-living facilities; most men live alone.
d. Most men and women live in nursing homes or other assisted-living facilities.
Bernice Neugarten claimed that people who experience old age most successfully are those with
a. disintegrated and disorganized personalities.
b. passive-dependent personalities.
c. defended personalities.
d. integrated personalities.
Social isolation is most commonly a problem for
a. elderly men.
b. elderly women.
c. elderly men and women living with their children.
d. elderly men and women living with spouses.
For most U.S. seniors, who is the greatest source of social support?
a. staff at nursing homes
b. other seniors
c. family members
d. neighbors
The practice of older people retiring from work
a. is as old as society itself.
b. emerged along with the spread of agriculture.
c. developed about a century ago along with industrialization.
d. emerged only in postindustrial societies.
The recent economic downturn has had what effect on older workers in the United States?
a. Almost no older people now work for income.
b. Many have had little choice but to continue working.
c. Most older workers people now retire by about age fifty.
d. Most older workers are enrolled in college courses.
The median wealth (net worth) of U.S. seniors in 2007 was about
a. $1,237.
b. $23,700.
c. $237,000.
d. $1,237,000.
Which of the following illustrates the concept of “staged retirement”?
a. Alicia carefully plans for retirement beginning when she is in her twenties.
b. Marco’s company requires him to retire at age sixty-five.
c. Latoya continues working in her old age, but at a reduced level.
d. Sam finds other activities to fill the time once spent working.
The poverty rate among people over the age of sixty-five is
a. above the national average.
b. the same as the national average.
c. below the national average.
d. almost zero, since people receive Social Security.
Over the life course, poverty rates in the United States are lowest among those
a. aged sixty-five and older.
b. aged fifty-five to sixty-four.
c. aged forty-five to fifty-four.
d. aged thirty-five to forty-four.
Since 1960, the poverty rate among the U.S. elderly
a. has dropped significantly.
b. has fluctuated up and down.
c. has remained stable.
d. has gone up.
Poverty rates among African American and Hispanic elders in the United States are
a. about the same as among elderly, non-Hispanic whites.
b. two to three times higher than among elderly, non-Hispanic whites.
c. ten times higher than among elderly, non-Hispanic whites.
d. lower than among elderly, non-Hispanic whites.
Among U.S. seniors, the gender gap in income
a. does not exist.
b. is much smaller than it is for the population as a whole.
c. is greater than it is for the population as a whole.
d. is the same as it is for the population as a whole.
Most caregiving to older people in the United States is provided by
a. the staff at nursing homes.
b. hospital staff.
c. women, typically daughters and wives.
d. senior friends and neighbors.
Abuse of the elderly includes
a. emotional harm.
b. physical neglect.
c. financial harm.
d. All of these are correct.
Which of the following situations increases the risk of elder abuse?
a. A caregiver to an older person also has a full-time job.
b. A caregiver to an older person also cares for his or her young children.
c. A caregiver to an older person has little help or support from other people.
d. All of these are correct.
The concept of “ageism” refers to
a. failing to provide necessary care for the elderly.
b. the reality that we all grow old.
c. prejudice and discrimination against the elderly.
d. forcing elderly people to retire from paid work.
Gordon Streib concludes that older people
a. are not a minority as, say, African Americans are.
b. are more disadvantaged than other minorities.
c. are an advantaged segment of the population.
d. have the highest risk of any age category of becoming poor.
Disengagement theory is guided by which theoretical approach?
a. the social-conflict approach
b. the structural-functional approach
c. the symbolic-interaction approach
d. the sociobiology approach
disengagement theory
the idea that society functions in an orderly way by removing people from positions of responsibility as they reach old age
the stuctural-functional approach in the elderly
points to the role that aging plays in the orderly operation of society
*disengagement theory
* the process of disengagement provides for the orderly transfer of statuses and roles from the older to the younger generation
symbolic-interaction approach to the elderly
focuses on the meanings that people attach to growing old
-Activity theory claims that a high level of activity increases peoples personal satisfaction in old age
-people must find new roles to replace the ones they left behind
Activity theory
the idea that a high level of activity increases personal satisfaction in old age
The social-conflict approach in the elderly
highlights the inequalities in opportunities and social resources available to people in different age categories
*a capitalist societys emphasis on economic efficiency leads to the devaluation of those who are less productive, including the elderly
*some have less economic security (women-other minorities) less access to quality medical care, and fewer options for personal satisfaction in old age than others
The main point of disengagement theory is that
a. seniors want to be independent like everyone else.
b. society remains orderly by disengaging aging people from positions of responsibility.
c. seniors do not require as much care as most people think they do.
d. seniors want to remain active.
One criticism of disengagement theory is that
a. few seniors ever want to disengage.
b. seniors have little to contribute to society.
c. many older people do not have the money to permit disengaging from work.
d. many older people are not physically or mentally able to work.
Activity theory draws on
a. the social-conflict approach.
b. the structural-functional approach.
c. the symbolic-interaction approach.
d. the sociobiology approach.
The main point of activity theory is that
a. a high level of activity enhances personal satisfaction in old age.
b. seniors should not try to do more than they feel they can.
c. seniors should retire knowing they have earned the right to relax.
d. some seniors have far more wealth than others do.
Compared to disengagement theory’s focus on _____; activity theory has more of a focus on _____.
a. staying active; the value of retirement
b. the operation of society; the needs of elders themselves
c. society as a whole; patterns of inequality
d. the negative aspects of aging; the positive aspects of aging
Following the ideas of Karl Marx, Steven Spitzer suggests that capitalist societies
a. care more about the elderly than about children.
b. ensure that seniors have the most wealth.
c. treat the elderly as being the wisest.
d. devalue the elderly because they are less productive.
In centuries past with respect to dying,
a. people avoided discussing death.
b. people refused to accept the reality of their own death.
c. people were more familiar with death than they are today.
d. All of these are correct.
Today in the United States, what percentage of people dies after reaching the age of fifty-five?
a. 20 percent
b. 34 percent
c. 50 percent
d. 84 percent
In today’s society, most deaths occur in
a. impersonal settings such as hospitals or nursing homes.
b. the homes of people’s children.
c. a person’s own home.
d. a hospice.
The right-to-die debate is mostly about
a. whether people should die before their time.
b. whether doctors have the ability to delay death.
c. how much control people have over their own death.
d. whether poor people have the same quality of life as rich people.
What document specifies the medical procedures an individual wants and does not want under specific medical conditions?
a. a living will
b. an insurance policy
c. a death wish
d. a living trust
Which country has the most permissive law involving physician-assisted suicide in the world?
a. the United States
b. the Netherlands
c. Russia
d. Japan
Which concept refers to assisting in the death of a person suffering from an incurable disease?
a. Hippocratic assistance
b. euthanasia
c. gerontocracy
d. bereavement
What is the term for a facility that provides care and comfort for people as they approach death?
a. hospital
b. elder hostel
c. nursing home
d. hospice
Read the four terms below. Which of them is NOT one of the stages in the dying process described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross?
a. denial
b. intervention
c. negotiation
d. acceptance
Which of the following predictions about the future is made at the end of the chapter?
a. Immigration will increase the number of older people in this country.
b. Government benefits to older people will go down.
c. The elderly population will have increasing financial resources.
d. An increasing number of people are dying at a young age.
By the year 2050 in the United States
a. the elderly population will exceed the population of the entire country in 1900.
b. one-fourth of all seniors will be over the age of eighty-five.
c. seniors will have a greater voice in U.S. society.
d. All of these are correct.
in the past, death was:
-part of everyday life
-accepted as a natural event that might occur at any age
Modern society death is:
-set physically apart from everyday activities
-advances in medical technology have resulted in peoples inability/unwillingness to accept death.
Ethical Issues re: death
-society;s power to prolong death has sparked a debate as to the circumstances under which a dying person should be kept alive by medical means
-Euthanasia- ethical dilemma because it involves no just refusing treatment but also actively taking steps to end a persons life
assisting in the death of a person suffering from a incurable disease; (mercy killing)
-some researchers believe that the process of bereavement follows the same pattern of stages as a dying person coming to accept approach death:
hospice movement
offers support to dying people and their families