CHAPTER EIGHTEEN - Wohlmuth@Weebly

• Changes in roles and relationships are perhaps just as
significant as physical ones
• For many older adults, these changes are not
perceived as losses but as opportunities to create
new roles and to make old age a time of personal
and social gains
A. Erikson's Stage of Ego Integrity
versus Despair
• Ego integrity versus despair stage: the last of
Erikson’s psychosocial stages, in which older adults
must achieve a sense of satisfaction with their lives
• Ego integrity: the feeling that one’s life has been
• Reminiscence: reflecting on past experience; is a
positive emotional experience for older adults, that
is often seen as a way of communicating their
experiences to younger individuals
• Life review: an evaluative process in which elders
make judgments about past behaviour
B. Other Theories of Late-Life
Psychosocial Functioning
• Older adults maintain high levels of performance by
focusing on their strengths, and compensating for
• Activity theory: the idea that it is normal and healthy
for older adults to try to remain as active as possible
for as long as possible
– The most active adults have the most life satisfaction, are
healthiest and have the highest morale
• Disengagement theory: the theory that it is normal
and healthy for older adults to scale down their
social lives and to separate themselves from others
to a certain degree
Other Theories of Late-Life
Psychosocial Functioning (continued)
• Disengagement theory has three aspects:
– Shrinkage of life space
– Increased individuality
– Acceptance of these changes
• The third aspect of disengagement theory is
controversial, since it implies a personality change
• Most elders continue to have social involvement
• Continuity theory: the idea that older adults adapt
life-long interests and activities to the limitations
imposed on them by physical aging
• Individual differences continue to make substantial
contributions to the experiences of older men and
• Research suggests that differences in a variety of
behaviours are related to overall quality of life as well
as to longevity
• Individual differences in reliance on religious beliefs
and institutions as sources of support are also
correlated with well-being in late adulthood
A. The Successful Aging Paradigm
• Successful aging has three components:
– Good physical health
– The retention of mental abilities
– A continuing engagement in social and productive
• An additional aspect of successful aging is an
individual's subjective sense of life satisfaction
• The concept of successful aging is referred to as a
paradigm because it presents patterns for or
examples of such aging
The Components of Successful Aging
The Successful Aging Paradigm (continued)
• Staying Healthy and Able:
– Older people reap the consequences of behavioural
choices they made when younger
– When an older adult suffers a stroke or fractures a
bone, his willingness to engage in the sometimes
painful process of rehabilitation significantly affects
his degree of recovery
– Those who believe they can achieve rehabilitation
goals are most motivated to participate, and most
likely to succeed
The Successful Aging Paradigm (continued)
• Retaining Cognitive Abilities:
– The best educated show the least cognitive decline
– Verbal intelligence and education are related to
physical health and social engagement
– Avoidance of learning may actually contribute to
cognitive decline
– New learning helps to establish new connections
between neurons, connections that may protect the
aging brain against deterioration
– Cognitive adventurousness, a willingness to learn new
things, contributes to successful aging
The Successful Aging Paradigm (continued)
• Social Engagement:
– Higher life satisfaction is reported by those who have
greater contact with family and friends
– Social engagement contributes to successful aging
because it provides opportunities for older adults to
give support as well as to receive it
– Even when elderly adults have significant disabilities,
many are still oriented toward helping others and feel
more satisfied with their lives when they can do so
The Successful Aging Paradigm (continued)
• Productivity:
– People who volunteer, especially with helping others,
are happier and healthier in their elder years
– Canadians aged 65 to 74 clocked the highest number
of annual volunteer hours of any age group, with
those over 75 a close second
• Other types of productivity (art and music lessons,
academic classes etc.) add purpose to life, improve
interaction with peers, provide a sense of
competence; all of which help elders stay healthy
The Successful Aging Paradigm (continued)
• Life satisfaction:
– A sense of personal well-being is an important
component of successful aging
– Perceived adequacy of social support and perceived
adequacy of income are critical, and are more
important than objective measures of the same things
– Self-ratings of health may be the most significant
predictors of life satisfaction and morale
– An important self-protective psychological device is
the tendency to see others as worse off
The Successful Aging Paradigm (continued)
• Criticisms of the Successful Aging Paradigm:
– It can give the erroneous impression that all the
effects of aging are under one's control
– An emphasis on successful aging may cause public and
institutional support for disease-related research to
– Critics concede its influence has been largely positive
but suggest there is a need to balance the optimism of
the successful aging paradigm against the realities of
life in late adulthood
B. Religious Coping
• Religious coping is often cited as the primary
means of managing stress
• Sex Differences:
– Canadian women make more use of religious
coping than men do, but the effects seem to be
the same for men and women
• Religious Beliefs:
– Seniors who place a great deal of emphasis on
religious faith worry much less than those who do
– Religious seniors are more likely than their
nonreligious peers to view old age as a chapter in an
ongoing story rather than as a period of loss of
Religious Coping (continued)
• Attendance at Religious Services:
– Across all ages, adult women attend religious services more
regularly than men
– Religious attendance is highest among seniors
– Canadian adults who regularly attend such services are:
• more optimistic, physically healthier, live longer
• very satisfied with their lives
• less stressed than their non-attending peers
– There is a connection between the sense of belonging
and the sense of well-being
– Mortality is lowest among religious participants
– Participation has many benefits including opportunity
to help others and intergenerational involvement
Religious Coping (continued)
• Alternative Explanations:
– Selection effects may explain some of the benefits
– Extroversion, likely present in those who are active
religious participants, is linked to successful aging
– The intensity and personal nature of the beliefs
(whether or not they have a religious focus) or the
sense of continuity of identity may explain the
– The research evidence suggests that supporting the
spiritual needs of the elderly may be just as important
to maintaining their health and functioning as
meeting their physical and material needs
• Consistency and change characterize social
relationships during this period
A. Social Roles
• Physical and cognitive changes are responsible for many
of the inevitable role changes in old age
• Some role changes are the result of ageism
• Appearance cues are often the basis for judgments about
the competence of older people. The older people look,
the more negatively others stereotype them which may
result in being unjustly forced out of roles by younger
• The loss of role definition can result in isolation or
alienation but it can also result in a greater “license for
• Older adults feel far freer to express their own
B. Living Arrangements
• Only about 9% of women and 5% of men over age 65
live in long-term care institutions
• Most married men will have a spouse until they die,
but most married women will live alone for many
• The percentage of married adults clearly drops in late
adulthood, and this change is vastly larger and more
rapid for women than for men
• In Canada, living alone is the most common choice
among unmarried elders
Living Arrangements (continued)
• Predictability factors that a single older adult in
Canada will live with a child or with other relatives
Adult children’s characteristics
Public home care and social support services
Marital Status of Canadian Seniors
Living Arrangements of Canadian
Research Report: Elder Abuse in Canada
A hidden, but growing problem:
• Recently, 7% of Canadian elders reported emotional abuse, such
as yelling, insulting, threatening, or ignoring; 1% reported
financial exploitation and 1% reported being physically or
sexually violated
• Male abusers are more likely to commit physical abuse, whereas
female abusers are more likely to fail to provide needed aid
• Just over two-thirds of all the reported instances of elder abuse
involve a non-family member or an unknown person
• The remaining 28% of abuse cases entail family violence and of
these cases, 43% of elderly men reported abuse by their adult
children and elderly women reported being victimized equally
often by their adult children (37%) as by their spouse (36%)
Research Report:
Elder Abuse in Canada (continued)
• Risk factors for abuse include the following:
– Mental illness or alcoholism in the abuser
– Financial dependency of the abuser on the victim
– Social isolation
– External stresses
• In couples where the husband has physically abused his wife
throughout their adult lives, the husband is likely to continue
the abuse into old age
C. Partnerships
• Marital satisfaction is higher in the late years, but is
based more on loyalty, familiarity, and mutual
investment in the relationship
• Higher levels of pleasure and lower levels of conflict
are reported
• Spend more time with each other than with family or
friends, and many provide a remarkable degree of
care and assistance to their spouses
• Similar characteristics and effects are found in longterm gay and lesbian relationships
Partnerships (continued)
• Rates of remarriage are higher for older men than for
• Older unmarried men are also more likely to date
and more likely to cohabit
• Married older adults have higher life satisfaction,
better health, and lower rates of institutionalization
• The advantages are generally greater for married
older men than for married older women
• The protective nature of marriage for older adults is
supported by research showing that single adults
over 65 have higher mortality rates, even when
factors such as poverty are controlled
D. Family Relationships
• Contacts with Older Children:
– Canadian studies show that between two-thirds and
three-quarters of older parents said their children see
them at least once a week
– Close family ties are maintained with telephone calls,
letters, and e-mail
– Aging parents are most likely to need support with
activities that involve physical activity (e.g., lifting,
Family Relationships (continued)
• Effects of Relationships with Adult Children:
– Good relationships and regular contact with adult
children can add to an elderly adult's quality of life,
but are not necessary for it
– Childless elders are just as happy and well-adjusted as
those who have children
– Friendships provide more opportunity to “be yourself”
– Relationships with children involve roles and
expectations that may add stress to a senior’s life
Family Relationships (continued)
• Grandchildren and Siblings
– Interactions between grandchildren and grandparents
are beneficial to both
– In late adulthood, contact between grandchildren and
grandparents declines as the grandchildren become
adults themselves
– Relationships with siblings may become more
important in late adulthood, especially after both
parents have died
E. Friendships
• Friendships gain importance in the lives of elders,
even as they diminish in number
• Contact with friends has a significant impact on life
satisfaction, self-esteem and loneliness
• Relationships with friends are likely to be more
reciprocal or equitable, and such equitable
relationships are more valued and less stressful than
relationships with family members
• Friends also provide assistance with daily tasks
F. Gender Differences in Social
• Women and men appear to form different kinds of
social networks, with men's friendships involving less
disclosure and less intimacy than is true among
• Older women's networks tend to be larger and closer
than those of older men
• Men's social networks are just as important to them
and provide them with the same kinds of emotional
support as women's networks do, even though
men's networks tend to be smaller
• A remarkable capacity for adaptation marks
the transition from work to retirement
A. Timing of Retirement
• Until a few years ago, the normal retirement age was
65 in Canada; with few exceptions, mandatory
retirement has been eliminated across the country
• As of 2004, only 18% of employed Canadians under
the age of 40 were willing to postpone their
retirement and this trend is echoed more recently by
those nearing retirement age (aged 45 to 59)
• The average retirement age dropped from age 64.9
in 1982 to 61 years of age by the year 2000
• The trend is reversing and the retirement age is
creeping back up; it rose to 62 years of age in 2007
B. Reasons for Retirement
• Age:
– If a person's "expected life history" includes
retirement at age 55 or 65, he or she is strongly
inclined to retire at that age, regardless of other
• Health:
– Poor health creates a particularly strong push toward
early retirement
• Family Considerations:
– Those who are still supporting minor children retire
later than do those in the post-parental stage
Reasons for Retirement (continued)
• Financial Support:
– Those who anticipate pension support in addition to Canada
Pension Plan (CPP) or Quebec Pension Plan (QPP), or who
have personal savings to draw upon, retire earlier than do
those who have no such financial backup
• Work Characteristics:
– Those who like their work and are highly work-committed,
including many self-employed adults, retire later than do
those who are less gratified by their work
• Sex Differences:
– The median age at which Canadian women retire is about 2
years younger than the age at which men retire
– The lure of higher earnings that will augment the woman's
future pension benefits keeps some working
C. Effects of Retirement
• Income:
– Retired adults have several potential sources of
income: government pensions, such as Old Age
Security (OAS) and the Canada and Quebec Pension
Plans (C/QPP); other pensions, such as those offered
through an employer; income from savings, such as
Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), or other
assets; and earnings from continued work
– Non-government sources now provide the largest
portion of retirement income
– On average, retired adults in most developed
countries have incomes that are equivalent to 85100% of pre-retirement levels
Effects of Retirement (continued)
• Poverty:
– After adjusting for inflation, Canadian senior men’s
income rose 21% and senior women’s by 22%
between 1981 and 1998
– The incidence of seniors who were living below
Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut-offs (LICOs are a
measure of poverty) has fallen sharply since the early
– Unattached older adults in particular continue to be
more likely to be poor than their peers who live in
families, and among the older unattached, women are
more likely to be poor than men (48% versus 35%,
Effects of Retirement (continued)
• Health, Attitudes, and Emotions:
– Retirement has essentially no impact on health
– For those who do experience problems with
retirement, the most likely reasons are poor health,
poor family finances, and marital problems
– Canadian research suggests that retirement can have
a positive impact on overall life satisfaction
– Those who are forced to retire by poor health, or
those who took special early retirement offers from
their companies, are likely to report lower satisfaction
and higher levels of stress
– Negative young people tend to be grumpy old people,
and satisfied young adults find satisfaction in
retirement as well
Effects of Retirement (continued)
• Geographic Mobility:
– Only about 20% of seniors move within a 5-year period
– Amenity move: post-retirement move away from kin to a
location that has some desirable feature, such as yearround warm weather
– Compensatory (kinship) migration: a move to a location
near family or friends that happens when an elder requires
frequent help because of a disability or disease
– Institutional migration: a move to an institution such as a
nursing home that is necessitated by a disability
Development in the Real World: Deciding on
Long-Term Care in Canada
• A long-term care home in Canada usually denotes either
not-for-profit homes for the aged or both not-for-profit
and for-profit nursing homes
• Care in Canada now costs anywhere from a minimum of
about $1000 up to thousands of dollars per month
• To be eligible for government subsidies for such care, a
person must first use all his own disposable assets, which
may leave a surviving spouse in very difficult financial
• Supportive housing: where the older person can have an
individual apartment and thus live independently but has
nurses and meal services available in the building or
Development in the Real World: Deciding on
Long-Term Care in Canada (continued)
• Provincial and territorial agencies that serve older
adults have suggested several criteria for evaluating a
long-term care facility:
– Facility should have required staff and equipment for your
elder’s physical needs
– Check with authorities to see whether any complaints have
been filed and their resolution
– Research the results of provincial/territorial inspections
– Visit at different times to note how residents are cared for
– Talk to family members of other residents
– Ask about the facility’s policies regarding medical
D. Choosing Not to Retire
• The small number of adults who continue working
past the typical retirement age includes:
– Those who have never retired from their long-time
– Those who retired from their regular occupations and
ventured into new lines of work, often part-time
• Continuing in a Life-long Occupation:
– Some men continue out of economic necessity
– For others, work offers more satisfaction than
retirement would
Choosing Not to Retire (continued)
• Learning New Job Skills:
– Potential employers express concern about older
adults’ ability to learn new job skills
– The learning process itself does not change with age
– Learning new skills may be slower, but with
appropriately paced training, older adults can
significantly improve their performance on many
cognitive tasks that are relevant to the workplace
Choosing Not to Retire (continued)
• Workplace Functioning:
– For activities other than learning new job skills,
supervisors typically give older adults higher
ratings than younger adults: they view older
employees as more reliable, and state that the
quality of work is better than that of younger