With medical advances that allow humans to live longer, many people see growing old as a positive and desirable experience. But for others, this life phase is a struggle.
Some elderly people rely on their families for financial and housing support. Research by Lang and Schutze suggests that older adults seek emotional support from their adult children.
Stage 1: The Young-Old Stage
This stage occurs in individuals in the 60-75 age range and is often described as an “enjoyable” and “exciting” time of life for many aging adults. This first phase of older adulthood includes a number of important health, social, and economic transitions and can be both enjoyable and challenging for both the individual and family system.
The young-old are typically in good health and have a strong sense of well-being. Their families continue to be a source of support, and they are likely to engage in family activities such as attending sporting events, holiday dinners, or birthday celebrations. The majority of elderly people in this stage have close friends that they can rely on for emotional and physical support. They are very active politically, with high rates of voting and letter-writing to Congress regarding issues affecting them.
At this stage, it is common for seniors to experience some loss of independence. Many elderly people choose to move into assisted living facilities, where they can receive assistance with their daily tasks from trained staff members. However, some seniors are forced to move into an elderly care facility due to serious physical ailments or cognitive decline, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The interdependence stage can be difficult forseniors and their loved ones, as they may have to rethink their lifestyle and accept that they can no longer live on their own safely.
Unlike in earlier stages of development, which are separated by distinct psychosocial periods, there is no single criterion for the onset of old age. Chronological age is used, but so are biological aging markers such as menopause and the loss of the ability to reproduce. Additionally, social and cultural factors that influence the relative maintenance of function and delayed decline may help determine a person’s chances for a long and healthy life.
Although a wide range of definitions exists for the concept of old age, most societies use the term to refer to people over 65 years. This population is expected to increase globally, and it is a time of transition from a younger society to an older one. Historically, the average life span has been shorter than the current average, but recent medical advances and improvements in diet and health habits are increasing life expectancy. This means that the percentage of elderly people is expected to rise rapidly as a proportion of the total population. There is estimated to be a 250% increase in the world’s elderly population by 2050, and this growth rate will be highest in less developed countries. As a result, most of the world’s governments will need to develop new policies to manage the aging population. This will require extensive financial, technological, and political resources.
Stage 2: The Middle-Old Stage
As they reach this stage, your loved ones will requiresome level of care and support. This can include physical help and emotional and mental support from family. Many seniors also begin to experience memory loss during this stage, so it is important to help them find a way to deal with these challenges. For example, one of the best ways to do so is by encouraging them to continue pursuing their hobbies and activities. This can provide them with a sense of purpose and enjoyment, as well as help alleviate their anxiety and depression.
This is also the time when your elderly relative may be experiencing a number of health problems, as well as financial challenges. This includes an increase in the incidence of diseases that affect the heart, joints, and lungs. In addition, they might be suffering from chronic pain, such as arthritis, shingles, or even cancer. This is why it is so important for your loved ones to maintain healthy habits, including eating well and exercising regularly.
While aging is natural, there are some factors that can accelerate it, such as lifestyle choices, environment, and genetics. For instance, people who live in unhealthy environments tend to develop chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes more often than others, and those with genetics may have a higher risk of developing them as they grow older (Hambrick, 2014).
During this stage, you can assist your elderly relatives by providing them with home modification measures to make their living space safer, such as installing stair lifts and railings in the bathroom. You can also help them with transportation, as they might need to run errands and visit friends more often. It is important for them to feel a sense of purpose, so you can encourage them to keep participating in activities they enjoy and seek out opportunities for socializing with their peers.
During this last stage, your elderly loved ones are nearing the end of their lives. This is a very emotional and distressing time for them, and it can lead to feelings of regret and sadness. For this reason, it is important to provide your loved ones with the necessary support, such as palliative care or hospice services. It is also a good idea to help them prepare for the future by arranging their affairs and setting up powers of attorney. This will ensure that their wishes are respected in the event of their death. Ultimately, this is the time when they must face their own mortality and come to terms with it. This is why it is important for them to have a strong sense of purpose and a loving family to support them through this difficult period.
Stage 3: The Old-Old Stage
The elderly enter this stage when they cannot live safely at home due to physical health problems or cognitive decline. It is common for seniors to move into assisted living or skilled nursing facilities at this point. In some cases, seniors are able to stay at home with significant home modifications and support services. This could include a home health aide to help with daily activities and frequent check-ins with family members or friends. They may also want to attend adult day programs.
During this phase, most elderly people develop close friendships with other elderly people for social and emotional support. They tend to find comfort in their relationships with other senior citizens because they have experienced similar challenges. Friendships are not based on status or career and instead may focus on a mutual interest, such as the desire to enjoy each other’s company. In addition, elderly people often experience widowhood and other loss-related difficulties. These experiences can affect their mental health and lead to depression, which is a common complaint among the elderly. The number of medical diseases that the elderly experience increases with age. According to a study, the majority of hospitalized elderly patients are diagnosed with four or more diseases. This increase in medical diseases is associated with the natural aging process and decreased function of internal organs.
Although the term “old age” is widely used, there are different ways to define it. Chronological age is one of the most commonly used criteria for defining old age. However, this definition does not consider other life phases associated with aging, such as menopause and retirement age. Biologically, menopause is often the beginning of old age in women and leads to the development of chronic diseases that are common in older adults.
Despite these changes, many elderly people still feel in control of their lives and maintain a positive attitude toward aging. This positive attitude is often called “accommodation.” Accommodation involves the acceptance of loss and a focus on those things that remain. It also involves gratitude for the past and a willingness to accept the future. Those who do not accommodate are more likely to experience depression and feelings of futility.
In this phase, the elderly often rely on their adult children for financial and housing assistance. This is consistent with the socioemotional selectivity theory, which states that older adults seek out their younger adult children for emotional support. It is also common for older adults to assist their grandchildren.
As you can see, the aging process is a complex and unique journey for each individual. It is important to understand the stages of aging so that you can provide the best possible care for your loved ones. Educating yourself in these three stages will allow you to empathize with your loved ones’ needs and provide them with the appropriate level of care.