With age, people’s types of activities, behavior, and socialization change under the influence of developmental shifts. Reaching the point when an older adult retires and disintegrates from a professional environment, he or she might experience significant challenges in managing social and psychological issues. These aspects influence the way senior individuals perform in their everyday life activities, how they are perceived by communities and their members, and how social they remain with age. Frequently, older people experience limitations in physical activity, are burdened with medication consumption, and encounter prejudiced attitudes from other members of society (Lange & Grossman, 2017). The current observation log presents a description of the activities in a day of an elderly woman providing insight into her behavior. The log also presents the analysis of the social characteristics, attitudes of other people to the observed individual, and the general conclusions about the developmental stage and its relevance to the theories of aging.
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|Home||8:00 AM||The observed individual starts the day with some light exercising, taking medicine, cooking and eating breakfast, and getting prepared to go to church.|
|Driving to the church||9:30 AM||The woman owns a car and drives it on her own. On the way to the church, she meticulously keeps to all the traffic rules and speed limitations, often complaining about other drivers being impatient with her keeping the rules. Indeed, when in traffic with a speed limit, the woman slows driving, but many cars drive past her, often rudely looking at her. The subject does not show any signs of attention toward impatient drivers but shares her opinion about discomfort driving under such circumstances regularly.|
|Church||10:00 AM||There are many people whom the participant knows and with whom she often communicates. Being a religious person, she attends the church regularly and is an active member of the religious community. Younger men step aside to allow the elderly woman to come inside first. They also suggest helping her on the stairs, but she gently refuses to accept any assistance.|
|Café||11:45 AM||After the service at the church, the subject and her three friends go to a café for lunch. This is their tradition which they try to observe every time they meet at the church. The waitress at the café seems to show more attention to the elderly women trying to provide help with seats and the choice of menu items. Such a kind of prejudiced attitude toward the elderly is one of the topics the ladies discuss during their lunch. The observed individual expresses her willingness and ability to take care of herself despite her age. Other topics discussed during the meeting include gardening, church service, health problems, recipes, and conversations about children and grandchildren.|
|Supermarket||2:00 PM||Having spent time with friends, the subject goes to the supermarket to buy groceries and household items. The subject is very attentive and accurate about the choice of products. She has a list of purchases and follows it while moving along the shelves with products. One younger woman acted rudely and showed her impatience when not being able to reach for a cereal shelf near which the subject was standing. The young customer apologized only after the subject made a remark about her rude behavior. When paying at the cashier’s desk, the subject is slow with counting her change, which makes some people in the queue show signs of impatience. However, the subject ignores such behavior of others.|
|Home and housework||3:30 PM||After having unpacked the bags from the supermarket, the subject takes some medication and relaxes in an armchair for a few minutes. After that, she changes her clothes and goes back to the kitchen to do some cleaning. She does everything slowly and meticulously, often pausing and stretching.|
|Living room||5:00 PM||For approximately an hour, the subject reads a book and then watches the news on TV, sitting in an armchair and resting.|
|Kitchen||6:00 PM||The woman goes to the kitchen, prepares cooking utensils, and cooks dinner with a slow but determined attitude. She keeps to a diet and chooses nutritious food to eat. She lays on the kitchen table and has her dinner while watching an entertainment program on the kitchen TV. She often laughs at the jokes heard in the program. After that, the subject takes some medication checking it with a prescription note, then washes the dishes and tidies the room.|
|Park||7:30 PM||In the evening, the observed senior woman walks in the park and talks over the telephone with her family members. She calls her daughter, tells her about the day, and discusses the plans for the next weekend when they will meet. She also speaks to her grandchild, asks about the school, and invites them to visit soon. She is pleased and cheerful when talking with her family.|
|Home||8:30 PM||After a walk in the park, the woman goes back home and gets prepared for sleeping. Before going to bed, she usually watches TV and reads a book.|
Narrative Description of Subject’s Behavior
Initial Impression of the Person
My first impression of the subject was that she was approximately 75 or more years old; however, she appeared to be a little younger. The observed individual is a middle-class senior woman of 72. At first glance, she seemed to be reserved and very serious, but in her conversations with others, especially in the church community and with her friends, she was very friendly, cheerful, and openhearted. She finished her accounting career and is now retired, lives alone, and is visited by her daughter’s family once or twice a fortnight.
The Level of Social Integration of the Person
The individual subjected to observation is not very active socially; her main activities are concentrated around the house. She spends most of the time at home reading, watching TV, communicating with her family over the phone, cooking, and doing housework. However, she is an active member of a church community where she has many friends and acquaintances. She is rather sociable in the circle of friends and family, as well as in the church setting. The woman is interested in the affairs of the community and participates in important events. Overall, the subject’s level of social integration is insufficient and could be characterized as rather low due to the fact she spends more time alone than in the company of others.
The Interaction of Others with the Person
The participant is a decent member of a group when she communicates with her friends and family. She is a respected member of a church community and an interesting interlocutor in a conversation on multiple everyday topics. Her friends (mostly peers) are supportive and compassionate, as well as willing to receive advice from her. However, when outside of a group of peers or a company of acquaintances, the subject experiences disrespectful and sometimes biased attitudes, especially from the side of younger people.
Prejudicial Behavior Toward the Person
During a day when the subject was being observed in different settings, several occurrences of prejudiced behavior toward the subject were detected. When driving with the preservation of speed limits, the drivers display impatience, irritation, and even disrespect when outdriving the elder woman. Such an attitude is demonstrated by rude honking and blameful looks. At the church, young people gave the subject the way and suggested helping on the stairs. Finally, due to the slow movements of the senior woman at the supermarket, some buyers showed rudeness and impatience. All these events demonstrate the examples of ageism as a stereotypical attitude toward a person based on her age. Such occurrences seem to disappoint the subject and cause stress and a bad mood upon interaction with others. Moreover, it is one of the issues that concern many seniors since they vividly discussed the biased attitudes of others.
Description of Specific Developmental Psychological Theories Observed
Being at a specific stage of life, the elderly experience challenges socializing, being an active member of a community, and have trouble maintaining their lives physically, mentally, and even emotionally. The burden of chronic diseases, medication consumption, and overall difficulties in psychological maintenance of the understanding of the inevitable changes in life become a cause for some significant shifts in older people’s behavior (Lange & Grossman, 2017). According to the observation of the elderly woman’s daily activities, one might apply a theory of disengagement of the aging person when she becomes more isolated from society and the roles played before. The fact of retirement is one of the main contributors within this framework. Therefore, an individual becomes less integrated into the community.
However, the fact that the subject is an active member of the church community allows for applying the activity theory, which justifies the importance of “retirees to remain active in their communities” (Lange & Grossman, 2017, p. 44). Regarding the stages of personality development theory, the observed person typically develops, showing the signs of dealing with health issues, children living their own lives, withdrawal from the professional environment, and end-of-life psychological aspects.
In summary, the observation log depicts a day in the life of an elderly middle-class woman of 72 who is retired and lives alone. During her usual day, she maintains rather a low level of social integration participating in church events and seldom socializing with friends and family but primarily spending time alone at home. According to the activity theory, disengagement theory, and the stages of personality development theory, the individual develops typically and faces common challenges of a senior citizen. The participant is easygoing and sociable in the company of peers but faces stereotypical attitudes from the side of other people, especially younger individuals. The observed examples include rude drivers showing irritation with the woman’s speed limit caution, supermarket clients impatient with her slow movements, and young men suggesting help entering a building. These examples of ageism show the ubiquity of the problem and emphasize the importance of promoting respect for the elderly in society.
Lange, J., & Grossman, S. (2017). Theories of aging. In K. L. Mauk (Ed.), Gerontological nursing competencies for care (4th ed.), (pp. 41-67). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.