Most people think of older adults as being constant and stable. You often hear people say things such as â€˜they are set in their waysâ€™ and â€˜you canâ€™t teach an old dog new tricks.â€™ Nothing could be further from the truth. In terms of transition and change thereâ€™s as much happening in old age as there was during adolescence. There are profound changes taking place in a number of different areas. That means older adults have to change attitudes and behaviors in order to adapt. Fortunately, they should be fairly well equipped to deal with these issues after acquiring a lifetime of knowledge and experience.
As previously discussed in other readings, there are declines in physical abilities, stamina, vision and hearing. And generally, there will be some health issues. On the other hand, most older adults retain memory, verbal abilities and intellectual functioning unless some form of dementia develops. So, although they are mentally capable, they have to deal with physical limitations that may hinder their activities to some degree.
There are also many social changes such as retirement, dealing with grown adult children, becoming a grandparent and possibly a great grandparent. With advanced age there can be less independence as they may need to increasingly rely on others, such as when they can no longer drive or need to enter an assisted living facility. Dealing with these new roles and changing situations can be challenging.
Older adults also have to deal with the concept of death more than other age groups simply because it becomes more familiar. As they outlive family and friends they have to learn how to deal with those losses. Even more difficult is the death of a spouse, which can be particularly devastating. Finally, older adults have to come to terms with their own mortality. Part of that is the legacy they feel they are leaving behind. This is what Erickson referred to as dignity versus despair. Will they be fondly remembered when they are gone? Part of it concerns all the associated questions. How much time is left? What, if anything, is next? Many rely on faith for answers.
Ultimately there are many things we can learn from older adults, including how to grow old. And some do it better than others. Itâ€™s all about how they deal with the inevitable transitions of aging. For this discussion Iâ€™d like you to talk about your grandparents, or some other older friends or relatives. Would you say they are successfully dealing with growing older? Are they remaining active physically, mentally and socially? What strategies do they use to cope with, and compensate for, all the changes taking place in their lives? Were there things that were particularly difficult for them to deal with as well? Were they ultimately resolved?
Then respond to a couple classmates. Were there things in common between your observations and theirs? Were there things they mentioned that you might suggest to your own grandparents to make their lives better? Hopefully, we can generate a handbook of tips and tricks for dealing with growing older. And since Iâ€™m getting there myself I can benefit from what all of you have learned from your own grandparents.
Try to submit your initial post by Thursday and your responses to classmates by 11:59 pm Sunday evening.