When one attains adulthood the thought of death is evident in the psychological perspective of this individual. This paper is going to give a comprehensive account of late adulthood and the end of life. Unambiguously, this paper will give an in-depth account of how individuals can promote health and wellness into late adulthood and mitigate the negative effects of aging. Secondly, the paper will analyze ageism and stereotypes associated with late adulthood. Moreover, this paper will explore different views of death and dying at different points in human development. Without much ado, the paper will sum up by examining cultural attitudes towards death and dying.
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Let’s evaluate how individuals can promote health and wellness into adulthood and mitigate the negative effects of aging. Several developments that ensue during late adulthood are worrying. This may make one depressed. Well, centenarians have lived healthily in the late adulthood spectrum. From the age of 65 and beyond one is preparing for late adulthood. This is a period where diseases are well correlated and may affect an individual ghastly. Gerontologists agree that the health of a person deteriorates when diseases attack during Primary or Secondary aging periods in adulthood. High blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases develop during this age are sometimes become terminal. It is a leading cause of death among the aged.
The research was carried on 5,000 adults who were over 65 years and did not have cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, after six years, some of the adults had developed heart disease. This was later found that what contributed much to this was the lifestyle of the participants during the research period. That is, a few of the participants had a smoking lifestyle, others had diabetes, others had improper practice, and others had high cholesterol (Fried et al., 1998). Hypertension or high blood pressure is a threat to heart disease and cognitive impairment that result during adulthood. This ailment is affected by salt usage, cholesterol levels, and lots of fats in the blood. Therefore, during adulthood one is bound to have improper health.
As discussed above, cardiovascular and hypertension are the killer diseases that affect most adults. The proper mitigation of such ailments should be from an individual’s perspective. The digestive system of such an individual starts to malfunction. However, a proper lifestyle should adhere. For example, Dunlap et al (2004) identify that “sleep deficit problems are widespread in the elderly, adversely affecting memory, performance capabilities, and general quality of life”. The reason why sleep is important is that brain activity will be enhanced and improve their performance capability. They will be able to have regular exercise. Most importantly health habits should be checked. The nutrition of the elderly should conform to balanced diet requirements that incorporate few calories, fresh fruits, complex carbohydrates, and all the vitamins. Poor lifestyles like smoking and drinking should be avoided at all costs. By adhering to the above-mentioned measures, and a lot of exercises, one can prolong life and reduce a lot of negative effects during adulthood.
Secondly, let’s analyze ageism and stereotypes associated with late adulthood. Senescence is the aging process. The aging process later begets a process that is prejudiced and stereotyped. This process is called ageism. The aged individual is depicted as a person who is incapable of performing vital tasks that are associated with the young and youth. The stereotypes make one believe that the old is very tired and weak hence dependant on the youthful generation. Palmore (2005) argues that “ageism is a social disease” that depends on stereotypes that instigate “needless fear, illness and misery” to the old. A few of the youth face adjustment in life. Using this theory of ageism, the youth are subjected to restrictions that change as they grow into adulthood. Although they rebel, when they enter adult life there is a diminution in pride and social involvement. Another stereotype that is commonly associated with ageism is elder-speak. This is a debasing kind of speech that is characterized by simple short sentences and frequent repetition. Some call it baby-talk! The elderly are thus referred to by demeaning clichés e.g. “dirty old man” and “doddering” as adjectival references. Therefore, from the above brief analysis, ageism can be destructive and lead to fearful life during adulthood. Thus, care should be taken on how to handle the old and be given the proper care that has no prejudice.
Let’s explore different views of death and dying at different points in human development. There are several theories concerning death, namely: wear and tear, genetic adaptation, and cellular living. Wear and tear literary refers to the wearing out of the body after years of disclosure to pollution, drugs, and a detrimental lifestyle. Just like machines which show signs of wear and tear, humans also show signs of wear and tear. The body tries to rebuild the parts that might have been injured using platelets. But when elastic limit ensues, the body leaves scars and marks that suggest wear and tear. By late adulthood these signs are evident and what follows is death. This is because the energetic energy is depleted and cannot be made again. Genetic adaptation is a complex view of death but its argument revolves around the genetic makeup of the human body. That is, there is a genetic clock that seems to “tick” and regulate the functioning process of hormones and genes in the human body. Simply, this clock may “switch off” life-supporting hormonal genes and “switch on” aging hormonal genes. The biological premise behind this is carried in the gene. The life expectancy span is determined by the gene.
This genetic clock determines the average and maximum life span of a species. This is due to different genetic conditions that are determined by historical, cultural, and socioeconomic aspects.
Improvement in medicine, sanitation, and nutrition has improved life expectancy. The immune system is thus improved by several immunization and antibiotics. This attempt to prolong life has not been proved to last more than 120 years. Therefore, the genetic clock stops at the maximum life expectancy period of a human. Lastly, the cellular aging theory is derived from the fundamental part that supports life, the cell. That is, when people grow old it is because their cells are becoming old and exhausted. There is a continuous replication of worn-out cells in the body. This replication does not continue for life but it reaches its elastic limit too! This can be attributed to the errors in duplication and replication. When the cells duplicate they may produce aging cells due to errors that may accumulate with time. This is because the new cell is not a replica of the old ones. The new traits mutated can be of aging characteristics.
Cellular transfiguration ensues from conception. Therefore, the DNA structure changes with time and becomes imperfect! This imperfectness is multiplied by all the cells in the body of an organism and there is no further duplication of newer cells. The cells are damaged and can no longer support life. Hence, cellular duplication changes because the electrons in the body become free radicals. These damaging free radicals are unstable. During molecular splitting, they use energy from the mitochondria causing more errors and damage. This exhaustive usage of energy makes the body lose a lot of energy and finally die!
Finally, let’s examine various cultural attitudes towards death and dying. In remote vicinities in Pakistan and Ecuador, the aged have a lot of vigor that is different from other countries. That is, they are erect, have good eyesight, have also good hearing, and can perform household chores! Researchers found out that they believe in a balanced meal that has few fats. The aged are integrated into the community and work continues throughout a living span. Exercise and rest are mandatory. Unlike the people who have attained the centenarian stage seem to achieve compression of morbidity and minimize any problems, they find in their lives. The cultural perspective of these people is conforming to the scientific approach of longevity in life. This is also seconded by communities from Japan and members of the religious group called Seventh Day Adventists. Therefore their attitude towards death is very optimistic. This makes most of them live in the centenarian age and have an intellectual curiosity about dying (Aldwin & Gilmer, 2003).
Aldwin, C. & Gilmer, D. F. (2003). Interface between physical and mental health. Health, illness, and optimal aging: Biological and psychosocial perspectives. New York: Guilford.
Dunlap et al. (2004). Fundamental properties of circadian rhythms. Chronobiology – Biological Timekeeping, 6. Sunderland, MA : Sinauer Associates.
Fried et al. (1998). Omental and subcutaneous adipose tissues of obese subjects. Nutritional Sciences, 83. New Jersey, NJ: Rutgers University.
Palmore, E., (2005). Three Decades of Research on Ageism. Generators, 89. Web.