Late adulthood is the last stage of an individual’s developmental process. Late adulthood is a developmental stage between 55 or 65 years to death. It is an integrity verses despair stage. A number of individuals, who live up to late adulthood are usually contented and happy because of their achievements and contributions to life. The basic strength at late adulthood is wisdom gained through an individual’s experiences.
However, some people experience a sense of despair in late adulthood. This sense of despair can be attributed to apparent failures or unaccomplished projects. As a result, a number of people experiencing despair in late adulthood often fear death as they are still trying to find their purpose in life.
This paper examines ageism and the stereotypes associated with late adulthood; how individuals can promote health and wellness in late adulthood; the importance of relationships and social interactions; and personal attitudes towards death in late adulthood.
Ageism and Stereotypes Associated with Late Adulthood
Ageism is a term that was created by Butler Robert in 1969. The term ageism refers to a form of prejudice against old people. Ageism has always been associated with negative thoughts about the ageing process.
On the other hand, a stereotype refers to “a fixed or over generalized belief about a particular group or class of people”. A stereotype can be either positive or negative. However, most stereotypes are usually negative, thereby causing discriminative attitudes.
Late adulthood has been associated with a number of stereotypes, most of which are cruel and untrue. Some of the stereotypes associated with late adulthood include the following. First, old people are perceived as weak and frail. Most movies, magazines, and books emphasize physical beauty and portray it as what determines a person’s self worth and dignity.
Therefore, the younger a person is the higher his or her self worth. As a result, most young people fear growing old and a majority have embraced the use of modern personal care products, or cosmetics to enable them maintain a youthful look.
However, most of these products have hazardous side effects. Therefore, the society’s emphasis on young people has led to a negative perception about the elderly. This stereotype has also affected how the elderly view themselves.
Second, older people are stereotyped as unproductive economically. In most instances, most people consider the elderly as a form of liability and a burden to the society. However, not all aged people are dependant and unproductive. A number of aged people are able to take care of themselves by providing their basic needs.
Third, most people perceive the aged as sick and disabled. Ageing has always been associated with being prone to diseases and physical injuries, which eventually leads to suffering. However, not all aged people suffer from diseases and disabilities. A good number of people aged sixty-five years and above are healthy and are involved in the normal daily activities. Some of the aged people are even more active than the youth.
Fourth, old age has also been associated with decline in mental abilities and increase in mental illnesses. Most people perceive the elderly to be suffering from mental illnesses. However, only a small percentage of the older people suffer from psychiatric problems. Majority of people in late adulthood are still active mentally and are able to grasp new ideas without experiencing much difficulties.
Last but most importantly, the elderly have been perceived to limit social network and interactions. On the contrary, most elderly people have close relationships with their families and friends. Others are usually involved in volunteering work in their communities, whereas others are still engaged in their careers.
However, as a person ages he or she is not likely to be involved in several activities. Nonetheless, this does not imply that such a person is isolated and has a partial social network.
Stereotyping usually leads to social categorization that in most instances results into prejudice and discrimination. “Most stereotypes associated with late adulthood tend to convey a negative and wrong impression about aged people”.
Therefore, ageism and stereotypes associated with late adulthood negatively affect the elderly emotionally, socially, as well as, physically. Ageism like other forms of discrimination is likely to cause feelings of self-hatred, loneliness, shame, and low self-esteem among the elderly. This is because the elderly are more likely to conform to the societal stereotypes.
Ways of Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle and Wellness in Late Adulthood
Ageing is a natural and an inevitable process. As a person ages, he is likely to experience a number of physical and emotional changes. However, the ageing process tends to differ from one individual to another.
Therefore, there is need for one to adopt a healthy lifestyle that will promote wellness and mitigate the effects of late adulthood. The following are some of the ways through which an individual can promote a healthy lifestyle and wellness in late adulthood.
First, a person should live positively in late adulthood. As a person ages, he is likely to undergo inevitable changes. These changes can be either physical or emotional. For instance, some people may have feelings of anxiety or depression in late adulthood. Others may be diagnosed with fatal illnesses such as cancer. In such instances, a person ought to positively embrace the changes and continue to find purpose in life.
Maintaining a positive mind-set will facilitate smooth transition during late adulthood. Second, it is important to maintain physical fitness in late adulthood. It is important to engage in a number of physical activities such as walking, gardening, and fishing during late adulthood. Physical activeness will promote relaxation, thereby reducing stress. It will also improve both physical and mental health.
A healthy lifestyle in late adulthood can also be realized through proper nutrition. Most elderly people usually experience nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. In late adulthood, a person is required to get more nutrients through a balanced diet.
To achieve and maintain proper nutrition, older adults can seek advice from a nutritionist or a dietitian. Last but most importantly, a healthy lifestyle and wellness in late adulthood can be achieved by being hopeful. Hope enables an individual to be resilient and positive during late adulthood. Hope also enables a person to be optimistic.
Importance of Social Interactions and Relationships in Late Adulthood
Social interactions and relationships are very important in late adulthood. Interaction with friends and family members enables an individual in late adulthood to experience the love of people around him or her. The social interactions may also help an old person to find meaning and purpose in life.
As a result, an individual may continue to live positively. Maintaining social interactions and relationships will also enable an individual to have an active social life. This may also help an old person to avoid having negative feelings such as anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
Cultural and Personal Attitudes about Death and Dignity in Late Adulthood
Death is perceived in different ways in various cultures. For instance, the western world has a different perception about death compared to the eastern world. In the west, most people fear old age, as well as, death. However, in the eastern world, people consider death as a continuation of life.
In addition, respect and dignity are accorded to the elderly in the society as opposed to the western world. Most people in the west consider death and old age to be similar. This perception about death varies from one individual to another. There are individuals who are comfortable with the reality about death as they age, while others dread death.
From the above discussion, it can be concluded that late adulthood is a stage that most people have perceived negatively because of stereotyping. However, it is important to note that late adulthood and death are natural stages of life.
A person is able to lead a fulfilling life even in old age by being positive about the changes, maintaining proper nutrition and physical fitness, as well as, remaining hopeful. It is also important to maintain social interactions and relationships in late adulthood.
Berger, K. S. (2010). Invitation to the life span. New York: Worth Publishers.
Collins, A., & Smyer, M. (2005). The Resilience of Self Esteem in Late Adulthood. Journal of Aging Health 17(4) , 479-480.