HRPSY 3253 WA 1 Sp13

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HRPSY 3253: Psychology of Aging
Dr. Brigman, Spring 2013
Writing Assignment #1

Due: 15 Feb, 11:30 pm
Select one of the following writing assignments to complete.
Choice A: Aging Stereotypes
Although the text claims that most portrayals of older adults and aging are quite negative,
perhaps you are wondering if this is true. To some extent, the amount of negativity depends on
the source of the stereotype. Birthday cards about aging are almost always negative, whereas
advertisements are far more positive.
Go to a major source of birthday cards, such as a large department store, card store, or drug
store, and read 20 cards for children, 20 for older adults, and 20 for people of unspecified age.
Rate each card as being positive, neutral, or negative about that birthday age. What did you
find?
The 20 cards for children are likely to be positive; the 20 for older adults are likely to be
negative. You may notice, however, a sudden shift in cards designed for the very old. These
cards turn sweet and gentle. Why do you think this is? How positive or negative were cards for
individuals of unspecified age?
Describe some of the stereotypes about aging portrayed in the cards you found. Maggie
Kuhn, the founder of the Gray Panthers, says that the first myth of aging is that it is a terrible
disease one never admits to having. Consequently, we lie about our age as we get older. She
argues that aging is not a disease, but a triumph! In light of your birthday card findings, would
you agree or disagree with Maggie Kuhn (see page 11 of your text)? Support your view with
specific examples.

In preparation for this writing assignment, read Chapter 1 of your text (Foos & Clark,
2008). Be sure to incorporate content from the chapter into your essay.
Choice B: Physical Aspects of Aging
One of the major points in Chapter 3 is that physical change, biological aging, is highly
variable both between and within individuals. It has been said that when you look at the physical
changes within individuals it is a little like walking into a clock shop where all the clocks tell a
different time. Some are fast, some are slow, and some are the true time. For the first part of
this project, record the physical changes that you notice while observing older people in a public
place, such as a restaurant, mall, or department store. What changes are easiest to notice? What
changes are not noticeable at all?
For the second part of this project, look at the following list of possible physical changes:
o Your hair turns gray and you lose half of it.
o Your bone density declines and you are in danger of developing osteoporosis; this
loss of bone has loosened most of the teeth in your mouth.
o Your blood pressure is now 145 over 95 and you have atherosclerosis.
o Colon cancer is a danger for people in your family and your doctor wants to perform
an examination every 2 years.
o Your immune system is functioning at a very low level. You are prone to getting
infections and diseases whenever you are exposed to them.
o You have lost almost all feeling in your feet and hands.
Based on this list of physical changes, create an older adult by randomly selecting any three
changes. Now, create three more older adults by again randomly selecting any three of these
changes. Describe the adults you have created. Who is the healthiest and why? Who is least
healthy and why?
Is this the way that real aging operates? Do you think that physical changes are randomly
selected for older adults or do you think that some changes tend to occur together and that they
depend on the choices made when we are young? Support your views with specific examples.

In preparation for this writing assignment, read Chapter 3 of your text (Foos & Clark,
2008). Be sure to incorporate content from the chapter into your essay.
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