Introduction to Gerontology.
Gerontology involves the study of the cultural, cognitive, social, and psychological aspects of getting old or rather aging. The word gerontology originates from a Greek word “Geron” which means an old person or an old man. As a study, gerontology falls into the biological world and involves the study of medicine with an intention to treat the diseases existing among the elderly people. Aging is the progressive growth or changes of an individual’s age and body with time. Aging as a process is responsible for increasing one’s chances to get sick as he or she grows old. The nature of the process of aging has been a subject under discussion for a long period. This essay gives an analysis and a well-detailed explanation of how the social, economic, political, cultural and institutional factors affect the old people in the society.
Through the process of aging or getting old, the elderly tend to become unable to do their daily activities. Through their decrease in the ability to function very well, the elder people to acquire more disabilities and disorders as compared to the young people. Social factors are among the factors that put the elder people to be at risk to get ill. The social factors that may affect the old people include the family care that they are given, negligence, intimacy, and many others. Family caregiving is one of the social factors that may affect the older people living in the society or those that we come across within our day-to-day life activities. The caregivers play a major role in caring for the elder people in the society. Relatives, friends, and neighbors are the people who provide care to the aged in the society. The amount and type of care that is provided by the relatives or the family members depends on the family structure, economic resources, quality of the relationships and other factors such as time and energy. Some family members as well as relatives provide minimal assistance or care while others provide full time and complex care towards their aged relatives. For a very long time, the society has always assumed that the family members are the one responsible to take care of their old relatives but later it was discovered that it depends on the willingness of the family members. The old people require care such as being helped to feed, helped to dress, grooming and many others. Through giving care to the old people, some changes are likely to occur in their lives. Such changes include, increased lifespan since the old people are able to feel happy both physically, mentally and emotionally. Caregiving also enables them to have good health since they have people who can feed them with proper food as required and watch them eat.
Intimacy is also another factor that affects older people. Intimacy and its desire does not increase with age or rather has an appropriate age. In simple terms, intimacy is a disorder that affects the development and the maintenance of an intimate relationship. Aging as a process also affects the expression of intimacy. Studies and research have shown that those people who interact actively at their old age are likely to live longer, with health and much happiness. The old people today remain connected with each other through joining of social groups, pursuing some religious and spiritual practices and engaging in their various hobbies. Despite all this, the intimacy of a person may be lost through a number of ways that include, the loss of a partner, use of drugs and substances, age-related complications, lack of privacy, reluctance to discuss effects of aging, shifts to other forms of intimacy and various disorders.
Cultural factors are also among the factors that affect the life of the old people in the society. The cultural perspective affects the lives of the old people in the sense that it the caregivers might come from diverse cultures who in most cases they do not share the same cultural backgrounds. The difference in the cultural backgrounds may lead to the rise of many issues among the caregivers and the old people. The old people may be against something that the caregiver does which is not as per the cultural beliefs of the caregivers. These differences bring a lot of mistrust and hate and thus the old person lacks the proper care that he or she needs. With the lack of proper care, the old person might then be at risk of even dying anytime to the emotional stress brought by the differences in cultural beliefs.
Institutional factors are also among the factors that affect the life of the old people we encounter. The institutional factors in this case also are referred to the health and more so the nutrition of the older people in society. When people grow old, it becomes very difficult for them to prepare nutritious meals. For this reason, the old people now lack enough nutrients in their body and they become very weak. The factors that affect the nutrition of old people include nutrient absorption, loss of appetite, heart disease risk, menopause and prostate problems among others. Loss of appetite affects the nutrition of an old person since it makes the person eat a less amount of food that makes it difficult for him or her to get nutrients and in the end affects his or her health. Nutrient absorption is also another factor that affects the health of an old person since the old person may not absorb the nutrients as required because of the changes in his or her metabolic rate because of his or her old age. With this type of health complication, the old person might suffer from a lack of vitamin B12, which in itself is a deficiency that increases the risk of depression and dementia.
Health disease risk is also another factor that mostly affects the old people in the society or those that we encounter. For this reason, it is important to note that a healthy diet is required for people among all the ages of life but it is more important when a person begins to get old. In order to protect against heart disease, one needs to have a diet that lacks too much salt and fat. In the fats, there exist calories that need to be reduced to between 20-30% and they should be unsaturated. In regards to the feeling of being depressed and isolated, a finding has been tabled that the old people to prone to being depressed easily. The tender of being prone to depression can, therefore, be summarised to a risk factor caused by poor body nutrition. Isolation is also another factor in which the old people also suffer because they are left to live alone by the careless relatives. Others also suffer isolation since most of their friends died a long time ago. To solve this, many centers that care for the old people provide shared meals that allow the old people to interact freely thus reducing the risk of feeling that they have been isolated.
Economic factors also affect the life of the old people that we encounter or rather those that live in the society. Economic factors have for a long period been referred to the factors or activities that are linked to creating money or earning incomes or profits. In relation to this, the conclusion is that the old people become unable to work and they cannot participate in any economic activities taking place around or in the societies in which they live. They become very weak and unable to more work or engage in many tasks. With this, their health is also affected. At this stage, the old men and women are taken to the reserved homes or centers for the old where they are properly attended to as they get along with their elderly lives.
In conclusion, gerontology is one of the most important parts of the studies of the society. The rate in which the population is growing and how the old people are aging has a huge effect on our day-to-day lives. The understanding of what happens after midlife, when one begins to age is very important, and therefore everyone living in the society today should implement the social study about gerontology. This will then educate many people and create awareness about what ageism or rather aging is.
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