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The Role Of Aging May Be Dispelled In Assisted Living Facilities

“Since it is the “other” within us who is old, it is natural that the revelation of our age should come to us from outside – from others.” -Simone de Beauvoir

The psychological axiom of the quote could be described as: what we think about a person influences how we will perceive them; how we perceive them influences how we will behave towards them; and how we behave toward them ultimately shapes who they are. So, on what basis do we think about older people?  Because of the social patterns of age segregation in our society, we are tracked through time with our age mates: in school, from kindergarten through high school and often college; in youth organizations, such as Cub Scouts through Eagle Scouts, the young and old rarely have meaningful interactions outside of the family.

A study by the Center on Aging at the University of Maryland found that children of all ages had limited knowledge and negative attitudes about old people. In fact, only 39 of the 180 children surveyed were able to name an older person they know outside of their family. As a result, the young are inclined to view the old stereotypically, and not to think about their own aging.  Each group has its own “social clock” for judging the age appropriateness of various role activities, such as the “right” time for getting married, starting a family, “peaking” in one’s career, or retiring. Together, these age linked stages of life provide the individual a standardized timetable by which they might gauge the “correctness” of their life trajectory in terms of being “on time.”

Good Old Love by *enkana on deviantART

Being creatures of comparison, people have a tendency to compare their present selves with their former selves along with stories of significant others when they were at a similar stage. The American public holds a consistent image of what it’s like to be old and what the typical older person is like. The consistency is important considering the old are the most heterogeneous of any age group since we all age differently biologically, psychologically, and sociologically. It is significant that the elderly share this same stereotype of themselves, even though many generally perceive themselves to be exceptions.

In an AARP survey, “Images of Aging in America,” 1,200 adults age 65 and older were asked to rate a series of problems people face based on two criteria: how it affects them personally and how they believe the problems affect other people over 65 years of age.  The percent of individuals age 65 and over who rated the perceived problem as very serious for themselves and others were as follows:
Fear of crime        37% for themselves and 69% for others over 65
Not enough money    12% for themselves and 55% for others over 65
Loneliness        6% for themselves and 46% for others over 65
Poor health        15% for themselves and 57% for others over 65
Being needed    8% for themselves and 41% for others over 65
Keeping busy:    4% for themselves and 26% for others over 65

The results are revealing, and somewhat encouraging. Although seniors may recognize that many in their same “social clock” age group may have problems they view as serious, they don’t seem to think of themselves as being that in that category. Perhaps the survey was conducted in a successful assisting living facility where residents are encouraged to drop the stereotypes and live life with zeal without dwelling on the problems associated with age!

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Phoenix and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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