College of Social Work, University of South
Columbia, South Carolina, United States
University of South Carolina Press: Columbia,
Table of Contents
Aging in America/33
A Biopsychosocial Perspective of Aging/91
Sociological Theories of Aging/118
Health and Disease/131
Attitudes about Aging/150
Experiences of Aging for Women, Gay Men and Lesbians, and
Ethnic and Minority Older Adults/168
Programs and Services for Older Adults/190
Global Impact of the Longevity Revolution/217
In geronotological research new data evolve continuously.
Gerontology is an exciting field because we are all neophytes
who are learning how to age. This book presents concise information
on the processes of aging and the impact of social and economic
trends on the aging individual.
Geronotological journals and books and national and international
aging conferences report challenging findings regarding the
biopsychosocial aspects of aging. Professional associations
such as the Gerontological Society of America, the American
Society on Aging, the Association for Gerontology in Higher
Education, the European Association for Gerontology, the Pan
American Association for Gerontology, and the International
Federation on Aging present new developments in research and
practice. New Fields of study constantly emerge such as financial
gerontology, religious gerontology, elder law, nutrition and
aging, psychology of aging, and social gerontology. Specific
areas of study in architecture, marketing, business, and economics
add a focus on aging to their inquiries. Globally, new programs
and services emerge as governments and policymakers meet the
challenges of aging populations.
Within its twelve chapters, this book presents a global overview
of essential information for professionals, practitioners,
and lay persons interested in aging. Other books are available
that offer exhaustive material in gerontology, but this book
was written to present the reader with concise and essential
information on current research and practice, and topics are
presented that are essential to understanding the aging process
and societal impacts upon this process. The book, based on
many years of study and professional work in the field of
aging, concludes with thoughts about courageous aging as a
challenge for the future.
This chapter describes the growth of the aging population
worldwide and the social and economic impact of this demographic
explosion in developed and developing countries.
Chapter Two presents demographics of older persons in America
including the baby boomers, the old-old, and the characteristics
of racial and ethnic groups - specifically African Americans,
Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.
This chapter reports on changes in life expectancy. Included
are data for life-expectancy trends in the United States,
Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and South America.
Unprecedented changes in life expectancy are, therefore, the
numbers of older adults globally are attributed to advances
in medical technology, better health-care systems, and changes
in lifestyle habits. The concepts of active life expectancy
are dependency ratio are explained.
Chapter four focuses on longevity and the theories and studies
of lifestyle behaviors that contribute to long life, including
genetics, caloric restriction, exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle
or behavior. Well-known theories are included such as the
compression of morbidity theory and the contrasting perspective
of increased chronic frailty with age.
Chapter Five presents are overview of biopyschosocial theories,
perspectives of the causes and factors that influence the
aging person, and psychological issues such as memory, learning,
intelligence, and personality. Biological theories include
the wear-and-tear theory, the cellular theory, the error catastrophe
theory, and the somatic theory. The social environment of
older persons - including marriage, adult children, widowhood
and divorce, employment and retirement, sexuality, living
arrangements, grandparenthood, religion/spirituality, and
leisure activities - are examined as they impact the quality
of life of older persons.
This chapter describes the integration of sociological theories
into aging theories - such as the disengagement theory, activity
theory, social exchange theory, and continuity theory - and
their influence on program planning, service delivery, and
Physical and mental health issues and information about chronic
and acute diseases and the epidemiology (incidence and prevalence)
of these diseases are included, along with material on depression,
Alzheimer's disease, alcoholism and drug abuse, and anxiety
This chapter presents myths, stereotypes, and research on
the attitudes of both young persons and the elderly about
the aging process. The material also includes attitudes of
professionals about working with older adults and the attitudes
about aging in other countries.
Chapter Nine discusses the experiences of aging for women,
gay men and lesbians, and ethnic groups.
This chapter focuses on programs and services for older persons
including an overview of major public-support programs and
home care, hospice, adult day care, nursing homes, respite
care and recreation, nutrition, housing, elder abuse, education,
and intergenerational programs. Case examples are included.
This chapter outlines the impact of the longevity explosion
on political, social and economic systems.
Chapter Twelve concludes with a discussion of emerging future
and unresolved issues such as longevity versus quality of
life, public-policy choices versus private choices, interdependence
or intergenerational conflict, spirituality and religion,
assisted suicide and the right to die, and a proposal for
courageous aging. Research studies, statistics, current knowledge,
and future trends are presented to provide the reader with
current and essential information regarding concepts, theories
and issues in aging. Internet sites, books, and journals are
suggested for further study of selected topics. It is the
author's hope that learning about aging with inspire courageous
aging and will promote future interest in gerontological research.
This book began with a chapter on aging around the world,
which covered life expectancy worldwide; the world's oldest
countries; and the social and economic impact of global aging
in Asia, Oceania, Europe, and South America. Aging in America
focused on the old-old, baby boomers, and ethnic populations,
as well as the social and economic characteristics of older
Americans, with a report from a study of the concerns of older
The discussion of life expectancy presented statistics and
research for developed and developing countries on life expectancy,
as well as gender and ethnic differences in life expectancy.
This discussion included theories of the causes of increased
life expectancy, active life expectancy, and contrasting perspectives
of implications of long life. With this basis, some factors
that influence longevity were described, including genetics,
personality, social class, and lifestyle considerations (diet,
food restrictions, vitamin consumption, exercise, and smoking).
Next, the physical and mental diseases that most commonly
are found in older populations were briefly discussion and
additional references were suggested for further study. Psychological
factors including attitudes about aging and myths about aging
and the aged, are essential for understanding age-related
behaviors. The diverse early experiences of women, ethnic
minorities, and gays and lesbian older persons predict the
future of these groups as they age.
Finally, personal and professional preparation is necessary
to understand the impact of the longevity explosion on political
systems, businesses, health-care systems, and social systems.
Unresolved issues are the agenda for the next millennium.
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