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Age and Society. Aging and Society. Age stratification varies from culture to culture. “Being old” is master status that commonly overshadows all others in U.S. All who live long enough will eventually assume ascribed status of older person.

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Age and Society

© 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies


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Aging and Society

  • Age stratification varies from culture to culture

  • “Being old” is master status that commonly overshadows all others in U.S.

  • All who live long enough will eventually assume ascribed status of older person

© 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies


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World’s “Oldest” CountriesVersus the United States, 2006

© 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

Source: Bureau of the Census 2005d (projected).


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Perspectives on Aging

  • Increase in life expectancy has led to referring to people in their 60s as the “young old”

    • Those in their 80s and beyond are the “old old”

  • Gerontology: study of the sociological and psychological aspects of aging and problems of the aged

© 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies


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Perspectives on Aging

  • Disengagement theory: society and aging individuals mutually sever many of their relationships

    • Highlights significance of social order

  • Activity theory: elderly persons who remain active and socially involved are best adjusted

    • Withdrawal viewed as harmful to both the elderly and society

© 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies


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Perspectives on Aging

  • Ageism and Discrimination

  • Ageism: prejudice and discrimination based on age

  • Critics argue that neither disengagement nor activity theory considers impact of social structure and social class on patterns of aging

© 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies


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Aging in the United States

  • The Graying of America

    • In 1900, 4.1 percent of the U.S. population was age 65 or older; by 2010 it will be 13 percent

  • Highest proportions of older people are in Florida, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Iowa, West Virginia, and Arkansas

© 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies


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Actual and Projected Growth of the Elderly Population in the United States

© 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

Source: Bureau of the Census

2004a: 113; He et al. 2005: 9.


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Twenty-Eight Floridas by 2030

© 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

Source: Bureau of the Census 2005c.


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Aging in the United States

  • Wealth and Income

  • Typical older person has standard of living higher than in the nation’s past; class differences remain

  • Competition in the Labor Force

    • In 2007, 34 percent of men and 26 percent of women aged 65 to 69 were in paid labor force

    • Older workers face discrimination in the labor force

  • © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies


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    Rising Labor Force Participation Rates Among the Elderly

    © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies

    Source: Gendell 2008: 47.


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    Death and Dying

    • Death has been a taboo topic in U.S.

    • Kübler-Ross identified five stages of dying

    • Kalish laid out issues people must face to have “good death”

    • Hospice care: has goal of helping people die comfortably without pain

    • Recent studies in U.S. suggest people are breaking through historic taboos about death

    © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies


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