Discussion – Week 6
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Discussion: Perspectives on the Aging Process
You may be familiar with the phrases, “You’re only as old as you feel” and “age is nothing but a number.” To what extent do you believe these common sayings? Do you see yourself as younger or older than your biological age? And what are your views on the aging process—is it something to be avoided and feared, or celebrated?
As individuals grow older, they experience biological changes, but how they experience those changes varies considerably. Someone who is particularly fit at 70, for example, might perceive themselves to be in their 50s. And someone who has dealt with significant hardship and ailing health who is 70 might feel like they are in their 80s. Aging adults’ experiences are influenced not only by how they feel but also by how an older adult should look or should act, according to societal norms and stereotypes.
In this Discussion you examine biological aspects of later adulthood, and how these aspects intersect with psychological and social domains. You also consider your own views on aging and how they might impact your work with older clients.
Review the Learning Resources on biological aspects of later adulthood and the aging process. Identify the biological changes that occur at this life stage.
Consider your thoughts and experiences related to the aging process and people who are in later adulthood.
Respond to two colleagues by describing additional ways in which their perspectives might impact work with older adults.
Use the Learning Resources to support your posts. Make sure to provide APA citations and a reference list.
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Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.
· Chapter 14, “Biological Aspects of Later Adulthood” (pp. 642–671)
Chapter Summary The following summarizes this chapter’s content as it relates to the learning objectives presented at the beginning of the chapter. Chapter content will help prepare students to:
LO 1 Define later adulthood. Later adulthood begins at around age 65. This grouping is an extremely diverse one, spanning an age range of more than 30 years.
LO 2 Describe the physiological and mental changes that occur in later adulthood. Later adulthood is an age of recompense, a time when people reap the consequences of the kind of
life they have lived. The process of aging affects dif-ferent persons at different rates. Nature appears to have a built-in mechanism that promotes aging, but it is not known what this mechanism is.
LO 3 Understand contemporary theories on the causes of the aging process. Theories on the causes of aging can be grouped into three categories: genetic theories, nongenetic cellular theories, and physiological theories. Various factors accelerate the aging process: poor
diet, overwork, alcohol or drug abuse, prolonged ill-nesses, severe disabilities, prolonged stress, negative thinking, exposure to prolonged hot or cold condi-tions, and serious emotional problems. Factors that slow down the aging process include a proper diet, skill in relaxing and managing stress, being physi-cally and mentally active, a positive outlook on life, and learning how to control unwanted emotions.
LO 4 Describe common diseases and major causes of death among older adults. Older people are much more susceptible to physical illnesses than are younger people, yet many older people are reasonably healthy. The two leading causes of death are diseases of the heart and cancer. Alzheimer’s disease affects many older adults.
LO 5 Understand the importance of placing the highest priority on self-care. Everyone (young, middle age, and older) should place a high priority on self-care. If social workers do not care for themselves, their ability to care for others will be sharply diminished or even depleted. Significantly, the intervention strategies that social workers should use for self-care are also precisely the strategies that social workers should convey to their clients so that these clients can improve their lives. Everyone needs physical exercise, mental activity,
a healthy sleep pattern, proper nutrition and diet, and to use quality stress management strategies. Three constructive stress management approaches
are (1) changing the distressing event, (2) chang-ing one’s thinking about the distressing event, and (3) taking one’s mind off the distressing event, usu-ally by thinking about something else. The chapter ends with a discussion of the effects
of stress, and describes a variety of stress manage-ment techniques.
COMPETENCY NOTES The following identifies where Educational Policy (EP) competencies and behaviors are discussed in the chapter.
EP 6a. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to engage with clients and constituencies
EP 7b. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the analysis of assessment data from clients and constituencies. (All of this chapter.) The content of this chapter is focused on social work students acquiring both of these behaviors in work-ing with older persons.
EP 8b. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in interventions with
clients and constituencies (pp. 658–670). Material is presented on self-care interventions that social workers should use in their daily lives to care for themselves. These interventions should also be used by social workers to improve the lives of their clients.
EP 1 Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior (pp. 646, 649, 653, 657) Ethical questions are posed.
See this text’s companion website at www.cengagebrain.com for learning tools such as chapter quizzes, videos, and more.
Nelson, T. D. (2016). Promoting healthy aging by confronting ageism. American Psychologist, 71(4), 276–282
Ricks-Aherne, E. S., Wallace, C. L., & Kusmaul, N. (2020). Practice considerations for trauma-informed care at end of life. Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care, 16(4), 313–329. https://doi.org/10.1080/15524256.2020.1819939
Rine, C. M. (2018). Is social work prepared for diversity in hospice and palliative care? Health and Social Work, 43(1), 41–50. https://doi.org/10.1093/hsw/hlx048
Required Media: Meet Ray: Age 41 to 68 Time Estimate: 2 minutes
Initial Posting: Content: 14.85 (49.5%) – 16.5 (55%)
Initial posting thoroughly responds to all parts of the Discussion prompt. Posting demonstrates excellent understanding of the material presented in the Learning Resources, as well as ability to apply the material. Posting demonstrates exemplary critical thinking and reflection, as well as analysis of the weekly Learning Resources. Specific and relevant examples and evidence from at least two of the Learning Resources and other scholarly sources are used to substantiate the argument or viewpoint.
Follow-Up Response Postings: Content
6.75 (22.5%) – 7.5 (25%)
Student thoroughly addresses all parts of the response prompt. Student responds to at least two colleagues in a meaningful, respectful manner that promotes further inquiry and extends the conversation. Response presents original ideas not already discussed, asks stimulating questions, and further supports with evidence from assigned readings. Post is substantive in both length (75–100 words) and depth of ideas presented.
Readability of Postings: 5.4 (18%) – 6 (20%)
Initial and response posts are clear and coherent. Few if any (less than 2) writing errors are made. Student writes with exemplary grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation to convey their message.
Colleagues Response 1: Brianna Swopes
RE: Discussion – Week 6Top of Form
Two to three biological changes that occur in later adulthood and explain how the social environment influences them. Then explain how these biological changes could affect the psychological and social domains. Finally, reflect on your own thoughts, perspectives, and experiences related to the aging process. How might these perspectives impact your work with older adults?
When it comes to aging, later adulthood holds a stereotype of being “awful” and the idea that one becomes a second-class citizen by those who are younger even though these older groups are still healthy and living younger than they use to (Zastrow et all, 2019). Even though this population is living longer there are biological changes that influences their environment and how they are reacted to in their environment and themselves. Some biological changes are:
A person’s smile is one of the first things that’s noticed during encounters and as people get older their gums eventually recede, teeth can change color, and even fall out and eventually be replaced with dentures (Zastrow et all, 2019). For people who are part of the low-income levels they may encounter barriers towards receiving proper dental care or the ability to afford dentures and not having teeth or having problems with them can affect some psychologically. Not only is the loss of teeth associated with aging and as a reminder of that, it also impacts their day to day lives by experiencing constant pain that may impact their ability to eat or carry on with regular life functions that are valuable to survival.
Even though older people can do the same things that younger people can, it may take them longer and have an increased risk of accidents while their processing of information slows down, meaning it takes them longer to make decisions and use the right actions (Zastrow et all, 2019). The rate at which they learn is slower as well, which in the society they are in can be frustrating for others to interact with and continue to put them at risk of accidents. Psychomotor skills also take a toll on physical health as well and put these individuals at risk of fatal ailments such as heart attacks and stroke (2019). Having to slow down can be frustrating for the individual, especially when they find themselves unable to do things that they used to while people around them get frustrated.
Society holds a stereotype that as people get older their intelligence declines (Zastrow et all, 2019). This stereotype may make people brush off those who are older and not take them seriously or value their opinions or life stories, which could be helpful. Even though someone who is older may not perform intellectually doesn’t mean they aren’t competent, and this can be added stress to the individual for not being taken seriously.
After reading through this chapter, I feel a bit disheartened. Just because someone is getting older doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. While reading through the stereotypes I realized that I use them, though I try to catch myself and correct these judgement calls it can be hard so being able to read and reflect has given me more information to be more conscious of these thoughts and correcting myself. I think these perspectives can help me be more patient when working with older adults and keep myself having an open mind.
Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Colleagues Response 2: Bottom of Form Virginia GRIFFIN Top of Form
3 Biological Factors
Heart- Through the naturally aging process, our bodies begin to decline, slow and decrease in reaction or function status. The heart, as with other internal organ, becomes affected by aging “working at only 70%” (Zastrow et al 2018, p. 645) comparatively to younger individuals. Heart rate, elasticity, beat and ejection fraction all slowdown as we age. Decreased heart rate causes decreased blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. This blood flow decrease can cause an increased likelihood of stroke, and altered mental status. Those experiencing heart issues may with draw from society, recognizing memory issues or decline in alertness or ability to keep up in conversations or social interactions (Zastrow et al 2018, p. 643). Other factors may also contribute to decreased heart functionality, including, smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle.
Hemostasis-as we age our bodies tend to slow down, not only in external movements such as reaction times and agility, but our internal organs also tend to slow down, become less pliable, stiffer and hardened. In the case of hemostasis our hearts and lung functions become more difficult, more labored in doing routine activities, our hormonal balances become off kilter and healing is a lengthier and more involved process. Our livers and pancreases also tend to lose full functioning abilities, affecting blood sugar regulation, protein secretions and toxin removal (Zastow et al 2018, p. 647)
Respiratory- as we age, our lung functions decrease, thereby causing a decrease in bodies oxygen saturations levels or oxygenated blood cells traveling to vital parts of our bodies, brain, heart, lungs, liver, etc. As we age, the lungs loss their elasticity, expansion abilities and become more fibrous and stiffer (Zastrow et al, 2018, p. 648).
Lifestyle: any number of lifestyle factors can influence the body’s ability to perform at optimal levels. Genetics in addition to prolonged substance abuse such as smoking, drinking or illegal substance can damage the lungs’ ability to properly function and thereby accelerating the disease process. Obesity, overeating, lack of physical exercise can also hasten a bodies decline. With increased difficulty in lung functions, movement becomes slowed, more frequent rest breaks are needed to overcome being “winded or short of breath”. Because of this a person may become oxygen dependent, less willing to take part in physical activities and heightened sense of self-consciousness due to their inabilities rather than abilities (Zastrow, et al 653). As the text states, “Inactivity and insecurity” accelerates the aging process, biologically, psychologically and socially (Zastrow et al, p.653).
Social environment- engaging in social activities through stimulation helps sharpen the mind or brain functions through conversations, exchanging information and discussing current events. Life stressors or trauma can also cause a chain reaction of physical and mental response triggers to compensate for the adversity (Zastrow et al 2018, p. 664). It’s up to the individual if they chose to endure, bounce back, or persevere or by becoming self-deprecating, simply giving in and giving up. As Social Workers we need to be mindful of how biological changes can affect the client’s abilities, perspective on overall health and wellbeing and ways to encourage or connect to supportive services. We also need to ensure client access to quality health care, medication assistance and nutritional counseling to maybe alleviate stressors related to poor health or lack of understanding about disease process. Education should also be offered about the relation between obesity contributing to adverse health effects.
Personal thoughts- As an adult in the middle adulthood age range, I hope a lifetime of good habits such as physical exercise, meditation, guided imagery, healthy eating and avoidance of illicit substances has extended my life expectancy, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Also, by attending graduate school at my age, although stressful at times, has strengthened mental stimulation, critical thinking and problem-solving skills to carry over into the next phase, old age(Zastrow et al 2018, pp.666-670).
Zastrow, C., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2018). Empowerment Series: Understanding Human Behavior and the Social Environment (11th Edition). Cengage Learning US.
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