INTRODUCTION TO
SOCIOLOGY
AGING AND HEALTH
THE WORLD’S POPULATION IS
GETTING OLDER

American children born in 1990 have a life
expectancy of 78 years (Natl. Center for
Health Statistics-07)

2000 yrs ago, the average newborn
Roman baby could expect to live to the
age of 22
The Population is Aging

In 1800 the average person’s chance of
living to the age of 100 was roughly 1 in
20 million-today it’s 1 in 50

By 2030 there will be more elderly people
than young people in the U.S.
The Population is Aging

The young-old(65-74)

The old-old (75-84)

The oldest-old (85 and
older)
What is Aging??

Sociologically aging is the combination of
biological, psychological and social
processes that affect people as they grow
older
Biological Aging
Biological aging typically means things like:
 declining vision
 Hearing loss
 Wrinkles
 Decline of muscle mass/accumulation of fat
 Drop in cardiovascular efficiency
***These changes can be offset in part by health,
diet and exercise

Psychological Aging



These effects are much less
well established than physical
effects
We assume memory, learning,
intelligence, skills and
motivation decline but this is a
more complex issue
Memory and learning ability
don’t decline significantly until
very late in life although speed
of recall may slow
Social Aging


Refers to the norms,
values and roles that
are culturally
associated with a
chronological age
These ideas differ
from society to society
and change over time
Functionalist theories of aging

Disengagement theory-it is functional for
society to remove people from their
traditional roles when they become elderly
Activity Theory

Elderly people who are busy and
engaged, can be functional for society; the
elderly can best serve society by being
active
Conflict theory and Aging


The elderly can be
seen as competing with
the young for
increasingly scarce
resources
Among the elderly,
those who fare worse
economically are
women, low-income
folks and “minorities”
Symbolic Interactionist perpectives
and Aging

We modify our behavior
through the life course-we
adapt to the changing
expectations of our culture

Continuity theory- older adults
can substitute satisfying new
roles for those they’ve lost.
ageism
HIV DISEASE –PG 502
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INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY