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Part VIII. Chapter Twenty-Three. Late Adulthood: Biosocial Development. Prejudice and Predictions Senescence Theories of Aging The Centenarians. Late Adulthood: Biosocial Development. the last phase of life 65 until death there are biosocial changes in the

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part viii


Chapter Twenty-Three

Late Adulthood: Biosocial Development

Prejudice and Predictions


Theories of Aging

The Centenarians

Prepared by Madeleine Lacefield Tattoon, M.A.

late adulthood biosocial development
Late Adulthood: Biosocial Development
  • the last phase of life
    • 65 until death
    • there are biosocial changes in the
      • senses, vital organs, morbidity, mortality
prejudice and predications
Prejudice and Predications
  • Prejudice about late adulthood is common among people of all ages
  • Ageism
    • a prejudice in which people are categorized and judged solely on the basis of their chronological age
prejudice and predications1
Prejudice and Predications
  • “Ageism is a social disease, much like racism and sexism”
  • It relies on stereotypes, creating “needless fear, waste, illness, and misery
prejudice and predications2
Prejudice and Predications
  • Ageism Against Young and Old
    • the calculation of “quality-adjusted life years” (QALYs), often discounts the years of late adulthood--that is ageist
    • Ageism is “pigeon-holding people and not allowing them to be individuals with unique ways of living their lives”
prejudice and predications3
Prejudice and Predications
  • Elderspeak
    • a condescending way of speaking to older adults that resembles baby talk, with simple and short sentences, exaggerated emphasis, repetition, and a slower rate and a higher pitch than normal speech
prejudice and predications4
Prejudice and Predications
  • Gerontology
    • the multidisciplinary study of old age
  • Geriatrics
    • the medical specialty devoted to aging
prejudice and predications5
Prejudice and Predications
  • The Demographic Shift
    • millions of people worldwide are reaching old age, and it is harder to be ageist when many of one’s neighbors and relative are old
prejudice and predications6
Prejudice and Predications
  • The World’s Aging Population
    • U.S. estimates that nearly 8% of the world’s population today is over age 65
    • most nations still have more children than older adults
    • the second oldest age group is centenarians
      • a person who has lived 100 years or more
prejudice and predications7
Prejudice and Predications
  • Dependents and Independence
    • every society has independent, self-sufficient adults and “dependents” who need care
    • dependency ratio
      • is the ratio of self-sufficient, productive adults to dependents (children and the elderly) in a given population
prejudice and predications8
Prejudice and Predications
  • young-old
    • healthy, vigorous, financially secure older adults (generally, those aged 60 to 75) who are well integrated into the lives of their families and communities
  • old-old
    • those over age 75 who suffer from physical, mental, or social deficits
  • oldest-old
    • those over age 85 who are dependent on others for almost everything, requiring supportive services such as nursing homes and hospital stays
  • a gradual physical decline related to aging… occurs to everyone in every body part but the rate of decline is highly variable
  • the aging process, which is evident from adolescence on
  • primary aging
    • the universal and irreversible physical changes that occur to all living creatures as they grow older
  • secondary aging
    • the specific physical illnesses or conditions that become more common with aging but are caused by health habits, genes, and other influences that vary from person to person
  • Cardiovascular Disease
    • the leading cause of death for both men and women
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
    • is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, cognitive impairment, and many other aliments of late adulthood
  • Diseases of the Elderly
    • most elderly people, even the oldest-old, do not have any particular disease
      • disease defined as any condition that requires ongoing medical attention and/or interferes with daily life for at least a year
    • heart attacks, strokes, lower-respiratory diseases, and cancer are more common in late adulthood
  • Health Habits
    • depend on individual choice and social context
  • Nutrition
    • with age the body becomes less efficient at digesting food and using its nutrients
    • drugs also effect nutrition
  • Selective Optimization with Compensation

Both depend on how well people respond…

    • primary aging is increasingly stressful as aging continues
    • secondary aging undermines well-being
  • Individual Compensation: Sleep
    • older adults spend more time in bed
    • take longer to fall asleep
    • wake up often (10 times per night)
    • take naps
    • feel drowsy in the daytime
  • optimization would mean making good use of sleep time
  • Social Compensation: Driving
    • family members question their oldest relatives driving but hesitate to do something about it
    • doctors don’t advise their elderly patients about driving
    • if older drivers crash, people blame the driver, not the social context that allowed the driving
  • Exercise
    • exercise in later life is important
    • becomes difficult for older people
    • weather can keep older people inside
    • team sports are rarely organized for the elderly
    • muscles stiffen and atrophy causes less range of motions
    • less flexibility leads to aching backs
  • Drug Use
    • cigarettes contribute to adulthood lung health problems
    • alcohol use is either not at all or over used
    • the elderly tend to use legal drugs and not usually at great risk of becoming addicted to the drugs
  • The Brain
    • primary aging causes one cognitive change in everyone—the elderly think more slowly
    • second crucial aspect of the physical aging of the brain—it gets smaller. Some areas shrink more than others
    • older people use more parts of the brain, while young adults use more targeted areas of the brain
  • Physical Appearance
    • changes continue among the elderly, often with emotionally destructive results
    • they are treated and glimpsed at in stereotypical ways
  • Skin and Hair
    • the skin reveals the first signs of aging
      • becomes drier, thinner, and less elastic
      • hair becomes grayer, turns white, and thins
  • Body Shape and Muscles
    • visible physical changes occur
    • become shorter—losing a centimeter every decade
    • weigh less than in middle age; they have less muscle tissue—may indicate weakness, thinner bones, fracture risk and disease onset
  • Dulling of the Senses
    • most troubling part of senescence is the loss of sensory ability
    • senses become slower and less sharp with each decade
    • technology can modify many of these losses
  • Compression of Morbidity
    • a limiting of the time a person spends ill or infirm, accomplished by postponing illness and, once morbidity (illness) occurs, reducing the amount of time that remains before death
theories of aging
Theories of Aging

“Can aging and even death itself be postponed, allowing the average person to live 100 healthy years or more instead of 75 or 85?”

theories of aging1
Theories of Aging
  • Wear and Tear
    • a view of aging as a process by which the human body wears out because of the passage of time and exposure to environmental stressors
theories of aging2
Theories of Aging
  • Genetic Adaptation
    • genetic clock
      • a purported mechanism in the DNA of cells that regulates the aging process by triggering hormonal changes and controlling cellular reproduction and repair
theories of aging3
Theories of Aging
  • maximum life span
    • the oldest possible age that members of a species can live
    • under ideal circumstances for humans, the age is approximately 122 years
  • average life expectancy
    • the number of years the average newborn in a particular population group is likely to live
theories of aging4
Theories of Aging
  • Selective Adaptation
    • the process by which humans and other organisms gradually adjust to their environment
    • genes for the traits that are most useful will become more frequent, thus making survival of species more likely
theories of aging5
Theories of Aging
  • Cellular Aging
    • people grow old because of the cells of their body becoming old, damaged, or exhausted—new cells continually created, each designed as the exact copy of an old cell
theories of aging6
Theories of Aging
  • Errors in Duplication
    • this cell duplication may produce aging, because each cell is so complex that minor errors inevitably accumulate
  • oxygen free radicals
      • atoms of oxygen that as a result of metabolic processes, have an unpaired election—these atoms scramble DNA molecules or mitochondria producing errors in cell maintenance and repair that, over time, may cause cancer, diabetes, and arteriosclerosis
  • antioxidants
      • chemical compounds that nullify the effects of oxygen free radicals by forming a bond with their unattached oxygen electron
theories of aging7
Theories of Aging
  • The Immune System
    • cells become less numerous as people age
    • B cells
      • immune cells manufactured in the bone marrow that create antibodies for isolating and destroying bacteria and viruses that invade the body
    • T cells
      • immune cell manufactured in the thymus gland that produce substances that attack infected cells in the body
theories of aging8
Theories of Aging
  • Hayflick limit
    • the number of times a human cell is capable of dividing into two new cells
    • the limit for most human cells is approximately 50 divisions
    • an indication that the life span is limited by our genetic program
the centenarians
The Centenarians

“According to some scientist, most babies born today in developed countries will live to become centenarians (Kinsella, 2005)”

“How might your life be at 100?”

the centenarians1
The Centenarians
  • Other Places, Other Stories
    • 1970—three remote places
      • Republic of Georgia, Pakistan, Ecuador
      • a women over 130, drank a little vodka before breakfast and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day
      • a man 100, fathered a child
      • a village storyteller 148, with an excellent memory
the centenarians2
The Centenarians
  • a comprehensive study found that the lifestyles in all three regions were similar in four ways…
      • diet was moderate
      • work continued throughout life
      • family and community were important
      • exercise and relaxation were part of daily routine
the centenarians3
The Centenarians
  • The Truth About Life After 100
    • moderate diet, hard work, an optimistic attitude, intellectual curiosity, social involvement
    • few calories, more respect, lots of vegetables, strong religious faith
    • no one is disease-free, tend to minimize whatever problems they have, are upbeat about their health,
    • attitude may be one reason they lived so long