Realities Of Old Age Essay

2194 words - 9 pages

Realities of Old Age: A Look at Growing Old in the 21st Century
Kwanza Burney
SUNY Empire State College – Center for Distance Learning

I have read and am aware of the university requirements regarding academic honesty.

Realities of Old Age: A Look at Growing Old in the 21st Century
Cloudy eyes looking from behind lenses that are too big. White hair that is thin and feather soft to the touch. Ill-fitted rows of perfect teeth, smiling from weathered faces. Loud voices yelling at ears that don’t hear. Small, fragile frames sitting hunched in chairs lost in thoughts of the past. Fingers that can no longer straighten, curled around the head of a cane that seems to support more than just ...view middle of the document...

There may be a decline in stamina and strength. For women, they may start to experience symptoms of menopause and men may start to lose sex drive.
The cumulative effects of aging culminate in the stage of late adulthood. In most industrialized countries (including the United States), 65 is widely considered the age in which late adulthood begins and it lasts until death. But is all “old age” created equal? Some researchers would disagree and believe that late adulthood is broken down into 3 categories: the young – old (65-74), old – old (75-84), and oldest – old (85+), with each subsequent category of elders experiencing greater levels of cognitive and sensory declines as well as reduced physical vigor than the previous group through the effects of primary and secondary aging (Erber, 2011).
Primary aging represents unavoidable normative age-related declines that most people experience, while secondary aging refers to aging as the result of living an unhealthy lifestyle and/or disease. Researchers further theorize that while not all aging can be avoided, the affects can be delayed and minimized through aspects of positive aging (Hill, 2005) making the generally accepted concept of old age a thing of the past. This thought process leads one back to the question the ultimate question: what are the characteristics of old age?
The Scene: The Bristal
Located in White Plains, NY, The Bristal ( is a multi-level retirement complex that offers several options of assisted living based on a resident’s individual level of independence. The Bristal provides many amenities that address the ongoing cognitive, social and physical development of their residents, with the option to add more services to enhance the individual experience or to address the special needs brought about by individual circumstances. With residents ranging from the completely independent who come and go as they please to those who must have around-the-clock care, The Bristal appears to have a fair representation of the many different types of aging that can be experienced by those in late adulthood.
The Bristal residents were observed as they went through their daily lives in different settings including meal times and during various recreational activities in the facility’s common areas. The purpose of this visit was to study how several of the residents’ overall development and well-being have been affected by the aging process. For the purpose of this paper, random names and approximate ages have been assigned to those observed.
Annie, Age 90
At first glance, Annie, a woman with shock of hair dyed bright red and a personality to match, Annie appears to be younger than her 90 years. Small in stature and dressed in clothes that would be more appropriate for the 1960s, Annie’s barely 5 foot frame was hard to miss. Annie sat by the fire place in the main lobby with a friend, greeting most of the residents and staff by names that...

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