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Literature Review: What are the Psychological Advantages and Disadvantages of Old Age?

Attitude is everything, for as George Burns (1896 ~ 1996) said, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” To start with, it should be noted that old age – is the period of human life from the loss of the body’s ability to procreation to death. It is characterized by the deterioration of health, mental capacity, damping functions. Prior to this period of life (women – 55 years, men – with 60 years of age) to citizens of different countries in accordance with the Constitution are supposed to retire. But there are also a lot of pensioners. As well, there are psychological advantages and disadvantages of old age that are perceived differently by old people. Some of them do not accept being old, making things even more difficult. And those who accept, usually are glad, happy and enthusiastic about their time spending, not thinking much about their health.

Aging is divided into several shorter periods of human life: Advanced (older) age – 61-71 for men and 56-74 for women. Old age – is 71-90 for men and 74-90 for women. Age of longevity – is more than 90 years. It should be noted that the term “old age” can not be determined exactly, because in different societies, the term has different meanings. In many parts of the world people are considered old because of some changes in their activity and social role. For example, people may be considered old when they become grandparents, or when they start to perform less work. In Europe, USA and many other countries, people are considered old when they spent a number of years. Around older people there are a lot of stereotypes, for example, they use a stick for walking, often visit doctors, need a lot of sleep, suffering from senile sclerosis. These views are superficial and not entirely truthful. Most old people are easy to move, take care of themselves. Although, with the advent of old age people become more susceptible to disease. Social, psychological and biological aspects of aging, its causes and ways to combat is studying the science of gerontology, special section devoted to the peculiarities of Gerontology, treatment and prevention of diseases in old age is called geriatrics.

Advantages of the old age can be considered:

  • Old people have a lot of free time, they usually don’t work, don’t learn and don’t have a lot of duties.
  • They don’t have big expectations. They don’t spend money on trendy clothes, toys, shoes, electronic hardware, etc.
  • They usually have families, which take care of them.
  • Old people live peacefully and slowly, according to Advantages and disadvantages of old age (2010).
    Also, there are some disadvantages of being old:

  • Old people are often sick and tired.
  • Retired old people usually don’t have a lot of money, and they must spend money on medicines.
  • They are often widowed and lonely.
  • They can’t eat a lot of dishes, because of health reasons: liver, heart, and weak teeth.
  • Old people often have depressions and sometimes don’t want to live any longer, according to Advantages And Disadvantages Of Aging (2010).

It is essential to note that The World Health Organization classifies as chronologically elderly people over 65 years of age in developed countries and more than 60 years of age in developing countries. Older people have limited regenerative abilities, physical and emotional changes that expose to danger the quality of life for seniors. It can lead to frailty syndrome, a set of physical and psychological manifestations of an elderly where you can develop many diseases. The study about the aging process is called gerontology and the study of diseases affecting the elderly is called geriatrics. Older individuals tend to have wrinkles, some spots on the skin, change in hair color to gray or white, or in some cases, alopecia, impaired sight and hearing, decreased reflexes, loss of skills and neurological functions diminished as reasoning and memory, and can develop diseases such as incontinence and Alzheimer’s disease.

It should be noted, that worldwide, the number of people aged 65 or older is growing faster than before. Most of this increase happens in developed countries. In the United States, the percentage of people 65 years or older increased from 4% in 1900 to about 13% in 1998. In 1990, only about 3 million people reached 65. In 1998, the number of seniors increased to around 34 million. According to Keith Wetzel, the number of elderly is also growing in the world because more children reach adulthood, according to Growing old (2011).

It should be said that the term elderly is a social anthropological term refers to the population of seniors or older and, therefore, is synonymous with old age and old age. This is a group of the population is retired and has 65 years of age or older. This age group has been growing in the population pyramid and age distribution in population structure due to the low birth rate and improving the quality and life expectancy in many countries. Living conditions for elderly people are especially difficult, because they quickly lose job opportunities, social activities and ability to socialize, and often feel neglected and excluded. In developed countries, most of them enjoy a better standard of living, they are subsidized by the state and have access to pensions, health guarantees and other benefits. There are even developed countries that provide work without discrimination on the age and where the experience and capacity bonus. Diseases associated with aging (Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, cataracts, osteoporosis etc.) are most frequent in developing countries than in developed countries. The International Day of Older Persons is celebrated on October 1.

As a fact, the newly developed senior sociology has other dimensions to consider these people a cultural group in a stratification of the population by age group (equal treatment, equal rights). However, this situation can only be applied in a small but interesting segment of consumers and political clients, so again it is reductionist because it assumes homogeneity. In addition, the paid labor market exclusion does not remove its inclusion in typical activities of volunteerism, municipal commissions, residencies, community centers, libraries and other institutions to community-based approach, a partnership involving as individuals and as citizens, according to Old age center (2011).

Also, it should be noted that Geriatrics is studying the healing and rehabilitation prevention of diseases in the elderly, and the Gerontology studies the psychological, educational, social, economic and demographic factors related to older adults. Today, there are specialties such as psychiatric gerontology, which includes variables such as quality of life and other scientific foundations. There is also education in gerontology, which aims to guide the precepts of science teaching of gerontology to enrich and strengthen it. It has also developed a technology to support social and industrialization and scientific advances.

As well, the theme of senescence in preparation for retirement worried Plato (in the V century BC) in ‘The Republic’, and Cicero (in the second century BC) wrote about it in ‘senescence’. Both are written in the ontology of the age categories, which is configured around ‘modes of being “related to the course very personal life. There are paragraphs that, in essence, are identical in both authors, according to What is old age for? (2011). The different denominations are: senescence, old age, old age, elderly, young and old second all have the purpose of avoiding prejudice and discrimination. Some do succeed, and in many ways, others, however, generate new masks. Sociological studies have also prioritized the issue, which vary in different societies and times on par with food, housing, health and transport. There are also elder abuse and age discrimination in workplaces. There is also a consideration with respect to “be active” hobbies and designed with universal design, replacing the older work and can also be projected from many years ago, for example: reading as a resource and fans who if you have not already been used in youth and adulthood, is unlikely to be used much later.

In recent years there has been a major social scandal, the outrageous reporting cases of elder abuse, by their own families or people living together. Some men are exploited by their families, and some women have come to suffer the so-called “Slave Grandmother Syndrome” for some families, abuse the trust that is, to work for them, without them having regard to her. In most cases, the psychological abuse becomes almost imperceptible, according to Growing old (2011). Another type of case is that the family or partners no longer want them because he sees the person as a hindrance, this idea usually occurs due to lack of money to keep him and the rest of the family or household cohabitants . Nursing homes are also strongly criticized by serious allegations of physical and psychological abuse, as well as inattention and the lack of care they receive, according to 6 reasons to grow old (2011). Self-esteem in the elderly is affected because the stage where the elderly live requires a restructuring of the personality due to a number of changes both at the physiological, psychological, social and family that make it vulnerable to a new life.

According to Growing old (2011), “On the whole, old age may have its advantages, such as knowledge and insight and the ability to enjoy life. The big disadvantage is, however that one is no longer seen to be attractive as a sexual partner, and treated accordingly. Women especially can be made to feel left out of the game. They can become old wives envious of youth and beauty, hating sex. Such are those who fall back on old morality and traditional antisexual rules and customs, and repress the young as their mothers did before them. Just as the older men rule the outside world of politics and business, the older women exert great and fundamental power over the inner world of society, the family, reproduction, sexual mores, and so, indirectly, over the men.”According to Advantages And Disadvantages Of Aging (2010), “As an individual gets older there are physical and mental changes that will occur. It might start with grey hair, skin that appears dull looking, a line across the forehead that intensifies into a wrinkle or difficulty remembering even the smallest of things. With this shifting world around us; everyone has different thoughts and feelings about getting older.”One of the phrases that I liked about growing old is “The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age” (Lucille Ball, 1911 ~ 1989). The psychological disadvantages play considerable part in each person’s life, creating the vision of the situation made by society about the old age “rules” and “perspectives”. The psychological advantages are knowledge and insight and the ability to enjoy life.

According to Quotes about getting older (2011), “The best part of the art of living is to know how to grow old gracefully.” – Eric Hoffer.All in all, many old people say that life slows down and there’s more time to enjoy themselves and their family. There is more knowledge and more respect from others, there is also increased knowledge of life, wisdom and great achievements. The most important is that “One gains a deeper meaning of life and learns to enjoy the things that are really important – spouse, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends”. It is also important to note that the most precious resource is time. Instead of aging, why don’t people start living?


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