Aging is one of the social problems that are currently affecting U.S citizens. This problem has affected the social institutions and the lives of people. The social challenges of the old people are further worsened by the economic constrains, and labeling. When we assess the issue of aging from a functionalist point of view, we realize that it is one of the social problems.
This is because the modern society does not have proper institutions and strategies that can enable the elderly individuals to cope with life effectively. Integrationists contend that people stigmatize elderly individuals since they are not able to adjust to the youthful culture. On the other hand, conflict theorists contend that problems experienced by the elderly occur since there is no effective power that can be used to streamline social institutions so that they can support the elderly.
Ageism is another social challenge and it refers to a situation where people look down upon the elderly people in the society. In this case, people become biased against the elderly. This problem stems from the fact that some individuals perceive the elderly as worth doing nothing good that can benefit the society.
For example, they are not able to do any productive work or chores, and they are also incapable of reproducing. This kind of perception prevails in many places of work and even in the government institutions. The youthfulness that is common in U.S also makes people to develop some negativity toward the aged. The erosion of the extended family system has also partly contributed to this challenge in which the elderly are not given kinship support.
Apart from them being neglected, old individuals do endure the following challenges. They are susceptible to chronic illnesses, yet most of them are not in a position to cater for such expenses.
They are also victims of both mental and physical abuse. Since many families are not properly equipped to handle the old people properly, they always end up being institutionalized and this not good enough for them. Primary aging occurs due to cellular changes in the body. Secondary aging is an expedited type of the usual aging and it occurs due to environmental challenges. For example, stress and poor diet can expedite aging.
Modernization is the progressive development of a society from traditional systems to a modern set up. U.S.A actively became modernized in the twentieth century. They had much focus and trust in science, education, and technology as the viable means of solving their societal challenges.
They also had interest in solving economic and social challenges. Besides this, they also encouraged urban-industrial society. “When modernization increases within a society, the individual becomes more important, and it eventually replaces the family or community as the fundamental unit of society” (Kornblum and Julian 179). As modernization increasingly becomes wide spread in a society, it normally dominates the cultural practices and religious believes.
Age stratification is the hierarchical arrangement of people in terms of age clusters within a society. When age stratification is done in terms of ascribed status, it can lead to inequality and these may cause ageism. Social structures affect us in many ways. “The Stratification of society based upon age helps determine the availability of social roles, the meaning attached to members of various age groups, and the opportunities provided to the members” (Kornblum and Julian 234).
Aging in a given society is normally determined by cultural expectations. Sociologists always analyze causes and impact of the current trends, and how they affect a graying population.
Aging Population in U.S.A
There has been a gradual increase in the population of the elderly individuals in U.S.A., and it is likely to affect the health services in the country because they need better health care. It will also affect sex ratio and social services. Increase in life expectancy has greatly led to high number of elderly individuals. Approximately, a third of U.S citizens are in this age cluster.
The above discussion clearly depicts the problems that are affecting the elderly individuals in our society and we should change our feelings toward them. This is because we shall some day get old and we shall also experience the same negative treatment, if we do not change now. I like this topic because it enables me to understand the social problems in our society. Hence, I can find strategies for solving them.
Kornblum, William and Joseph Julian. Social Problems. New York: Prentice Hall, 2008.