This volume presents innovative research on issues of importance to the well-being of older persons: labor market behavior, health care, housing and living arrangements, and saving and wealth.
Specific topics include the effect of labor market rigidities on the employment of older workers; the effect on retirement of the availability of continuation coverage benefits; and the influence of the prospective payment system (PPS) on rising Medicare costs. Also considered are the effects of health and wealth on living arrangement decisions; the incentive effects of employer-provided pension plans; the degree of substitution between 401(k) plans and other employer-provided retirement saving arrangements; and the extent to which housing wealth determines how much the elderly save and consume.
Two final studies use simulations that describe the implications of stylized economic models of behavior among the elderly. This timely volume will be of interest to anyone concerned with the economics of aging.
Aged by Culture
Margaret Morganroth Gullette University of Chicago Press, 2003 Library of Congress HQ1061.G863 2004 | Dewey Decimal 305.26
Americans enjoy longer lives and better health, yet we are becoming increasingly obsessed with trying to stay young. What drives the fear of turning 30, the boom in anti-aging products, the wars between generations? What men and women of all ages have in common is that we are being insidiously aged by the culture in which we live.
In this illuminating book, Margaret Morganroth Gullette reveals that aging doesn't start in our chromosomes, but in midlife downsizing, the erosion of workplace seniority, threats to Social Security, or media portrayals of "aging Xers" and "greedy" Baby Boomers. To combat the forces aging us prematurely, Gullette invites us to change our attitudes, our life storytelling, and our society. Part intimate autobiography, part startling cultural expose, this book does for age what gender and race studies have done for their categories. Aged by Culture is an impassioned manifesto against the pernicious ideologies that steal hope from every stage of our lives.
Let’s face it: almost everyone fears growing older. We worry about losing our looks, our health, our jobs, our self-esteem—and being supplanted in work and love by younger people. It feels like the natural, inevitable consequence of the passing years, But what if it’s not? What if nearly everything that we think of as the “natural” process of aging is anything but?
In Agewise, renowned cultural critic Margaret Morganroth Gullette reveals that much of what we dread about aging is actually the result of ageism—which we can, and should, battle as strongly as we do racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. Drawing on provocative and under-reported evidence from biomedicine, literature, economics, and personal stories, Gullette probes the ageism thatdrives discontent with our bodies, our selves, and our accomplishments—and makes us easy prey for marketers who want to sell us an illusory vision of youthful perfection. Even worse, rampant ageism causes society to discount, and at times completely discard, the wisdom and experience acquired by people over the course of adulthood. The costs—both collective and personal—of this culture of decline are almost incalculable, diminishing our workforce, robbing younger people of hope for a decent later life, and eroding the satisfactions and sense of productivity that should animate our later years.
Once we open our eyes to the pervasiveness of ageism, however, we can begin to fight it—and Gullette lays out ambitious plans for the whole life course, from teaching children anti-ageism to fortifying the social safety nets, and thus finally making possible the real pleasures and opportunities promised by the new longevity. A bracing, controversial call to arms, Agewise will surprise, enlighten, and, perhaps most important, bring hope to readers of all ages.
This book provides a comprehensive analysis of federal programs for the aging, and their origins. Landmark federal legislation affecting the aging was enacted in the 1930s, and the intervening decades have witnesses a dramatic increase in the number and scope of programs. But far from constituting a cohesive national policy for the elderly, the many programs reflect the particular political and social conditions surrounding their origin and implementation. The multiplicity and complexity of resources and services available make achieving even a reasonable grasp of this field extremely difficult. This study offers a coherent and readable summary of this important area of federal legislation.
By 2030, over 30% of the Japanese population will be 65 or older, foreshadowing the demographic changes occurring elsewhere in Asia and around the world. What can we learn from a study of the aging population of Japan and how can these findings inform a path forward for the elderly, their families, and for policy makers?
Based on nearly a decade of research, Aging and Loss examines how the landscape of aging is felt, understood, and embodied by older adults themselves. In detailed portraits, anthropologist Jason Danely delves into the everyday lives of older Japanese adults as they construct narratives through acts of reminiscence, social engagement and ritual practice, and reveals the pervasive cultural aesthetic of loss and of being a burden.
Through first-hand accounts of rituals in homes, cemeteries, and religious centers, Danely argues that what he calls the self-in-suspense can lead to the emergence of creative participation in an economy of care. In everyday rituals for the spirits, older adults exercise agency and reinterpret concerns of social abandonment within a meaningful cultural narrative and, by reimagining themselves and their place in the family through these rituals, older adults in Japan challenge popular attitudes about eldercare. Danely’s discussion of health and long-term care policy, and community welfare organizations, reveal a complex picture of Japan’s aging society.
Aging and Old Age
Richard A. Posner University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress HQ1061.P67 1995 | Dewey Decimal 305.26
Are the elderly posing a threat to America's political system with their enormous clout? Are they stretching resources to the breaking point with their growing demands for care? Distinguished economist and legal scholar Richard A. Posner explodes the myth that the United States could be on the brink of gerontological disaster.
Aging and Old Age offers fresh insight into a wide range of social and political issues relating to the elderly, such as health care, crime, social security, and discrimination. From the dread of death to the inordinate law-abidingness of the old, from their loquacity to their penny-pinching, Posner paints a surprisingly rich, revealing, and unsentimental portrait of the millions of elderly people in the United States. He explores issues such as age discrimination in employment, creativity and leadership as functions of age, and the changing social status of the elderly. Why are old people, presumably with less to lose, more unwilling to take risks than young people? Why don't the elderly in the United States command the respect and affection they once did and still do in other countries? How does aging affect driving and criminal records? And how does aging relate to creativity across different careers?
Represents the first integrated effort to deal with age as a crucial variable in the social system. Of special interest to sociologists for whom the sociology of age seems destined to become a special field.
Interprets the research findings on aging for professionals concerned with the prevention and treatment of problems associated with aging. Each chapter, written by an expert, deals with the field within the broad context of aging in contemporary society.
Selects, condenses, and organizes the entire body of social science research on human beings in their middle and later years. This volume summarizes empirically-tested generalizations from some three thousand research studies.
This is a story about aging in place in a world of global movement. Around the world, many older people have stayed still but have been profoundly impacted by the movement of others. Without migrating themselves, many older people now live in a far “different country” than the one of their memories. Recently, the Brexit vote and the 2016 election of Trump have re-enforced prevalent stereotypes of “the racist older person”. This book challenges simplified images of the old as racist, nostalgic and resistant to change by taking a deeper, more nuanced look at older people’s complex relationship with the diversity and multiculturalism that has grown and developed around them. Aging in a Changing World takes a look at how some older people in New Zealand have been responding to and interacting with the new multiculturalism they now encounter in their daily lives. Through their unhurried, micro, daily interactions with immigrants, they quietly emerge as agents of the very social change they are assumed to oppose.
A growing number of studies indicate that older people in the church form social ties that have a significant positive impact on their physical and mental health. In Aging in the Church, Neal Krause comprehensively assesses the various relationships that stem from church involvement.
Among the many types of relationships Krause explores are close companion friendships, social-support structures (such as assistance provided by fellow church members during difficult times), and interactions that arise from Bible study and prayer groups. Through his thorough investigation of the underlying links between these relationships and the ways they relate to attributes like forgiveness, hope, gratitude, and altruism, the author hopes to explain why older adults who are involved in religious activities tend to enjoy better physical and mental health than those who are not engaged in religious communities. Going beyond merely reviewing the existing research on this subject, Aging in the Church provides a blueprint for taking research on church-based social relationships and health to the next level by identifying conceptual and methodological issues that investigators will confront as they delve more deeply into these connections.
Though these are complex issues, readers will find plain language and literature drawn from a wide array of disciplines, including sociology, psychology, public health, medicine, psychiatry, nursing, social work, gerontology, and theology. Literature, poetry, philosophy, and ethical ideas supplement the insights from these diverse fields. As a result, Aging in the Church takes on a genuinely interdisciplinary focus that will appeal to various scholars, researchers, and students.
Japanese and American economists assess the present economic status of the elderly in the United States and Japan, and consider the impact of an aging population on the economies of the two countries.
With essays on labor force participation and retirement, housing equity and the economic status of the elderly, budget implications of an aging population, and financing social security and health care in the 1990s, this volume covers a broad spectrum of issues related to the economics of aging. Among the book's findings are that workers are retiring at an increasingly earlier age in both countries and that, as the populations age, baby boomers in the United States will face diminishing financial resources as the ratio of retirees to workers sharply increases.
The result of a joint venture between the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Japan Center for Economic Research, this book complements Housing Markets in the United States and Japan (1994) by integrating research on housing markets with economic issues of the aged in the United States and Japan.
The population base in both the United States and Japan is growing older and, as those populations age, they provoke heretofore unexamined economic consequences. This cutting-edge, comparative volume, the third in the joint series offered by the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Japan Center for Economic Research, explores those consequences, drawing specific attention to four key areas: incentives for early retirement; savings, wealth, and asset allocation over the life cycle; health care and health care reform; and population projections.
Given the undeniable global importance of the Japanese and U.S. economies, these innovative essays shed welcome new light on the complex correlations between aging and economic behavior. This insightful work not only deepens our understanding of the Japanese and American economic landscapes but, through careful examination of the comparative social and economic data, clarifies the complex relation between aging societies, public policies, and economic outcomes.
Active aging programs that encourage older adults to practice health- promoting behaviors are proliferating worldwide. In Poland, the meanings and ideals of these programs have become caught up in the sociocultural and political-economic changes that have occurred during the lifetimes of the oldest generations—most visibly, the transition from socialism to capitalism. Yet practices of active aging resonate with older forms of activity in late life in ways that exceed these narratives of progress. Moreover, some older Poles come to live valued, meaningful lives in old age despite the threats to respect and dignity posed by illness and debility. Through intimate portrayals of a wide range of experiences of aging in Poland, Jessica C. Robbins shows that everyday practices of remembering and relatedness shape how older Poles come to be seen by themselves and by others as living worthy, valued lives.
People are living longer, creating an unexpected boom in the elderly population. Longevity is increasing not only in wealthy countries but in developing nations as well. In response, many policy makers and scholars are preparing for a global crisis of aging. But for too long, Western experts have conceived of aging as a universal predicament—one that supposedly provokes the same welfare concerns in every context. In the twenty-first century, Kavita Sivaramakrishnan writes, we must embrace a new approach to the problem, one that prioritizes local agendas and values.
As the World Ages is a history of how gerontologists, doctors, social scientists, and activists came to define the issue of global aging. Sivaramakrishnan shows that transnational organizations like the United Nations, private NGOs, and philanthropic foundations embraced programs that reflected prevailing Western ideas about development and modernization. The dominant paradigm often assumed that, because large-scale growth of an aging population happened first in the West, developing societies will experience the issues of aging in the same ways and on the same terms as their Western counterparts. But regional experts are beginning to question this one-size-fits-all model and have chosen instead to recast Western expertise in response to provincial conditions. Focusing on South Asia and Africa, Sivaramakrishnan shows how regional voices have argued for an approach that responds to local needs and concerns. The research presented in As the World Ages will help scholars, policy makers, and advocates appreciate the challenges of this recent shift in global demographics and find solutions sensitive to real life in diverse communities.
In our highly interconnected and globalized world, people often pursue their aspirations in multiple places. Yet in public and scholarly debates, aspirations are often seen as the realm of younger, mobile generations, since they are assumed to hold the greatest potential for shaping the future. This volume flips this perspective on its head by exploring how aspirations are constructed from the vantage point of later life, and shows how they are pursued across time, space, and generations. The aspirations of older people are diverse, and relate not only to aging itself but also to planning the next generation’s future, preparing an "ideal" retirement, searching for intimacy and self-realization, and confronting death and afterlives. Aspiring in Later Life brings together rich ethnographic cases from different regions of the world, offering original insights into how aspirations shift over the course of life and how they are pursued in contexts of translocal mobility.
How do digital technologies shape how people care for each other and, through that, who they are? This is a particularly pertinent question today, as technological innovation is on the rise while increasing migration is introducing vast distances among family members. The situation has been additionally complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the requirements of physical distancing, especially for the most vulnerable – older adults. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with families of migrating nurses from Kerala, India, Calling Family explores how digital technologies shape elder care when adult children and their aging parents live far apart. Coming from a country in which appropriate elder care is closely associated with co-residence, these families tinker with smartphones and social media to establish what care at a distance could be and how it should be done to be considered good. Through the notion of transnational care collectives, this book uncovers the subtle workings of digital technologies on care across countries and continents when being physically together is not feasible. Calling Family is an excellent entry point into a better understanding of technological relationality which can only be expected to further intensify in the future.
Africa is known both for having a primarily youthful population and for its elders being held in high esteem. However, this situation is changing: people in Africa are living longer, some for many years with chronic, disabling illnesses. In Ghana, many older people, rather than experiencing a sense of security that they will be respected and cared for by the younger generations, feel anxious that they will be abandoned and neglected by their kin. In response to their concerns about care, they and their kin are exploring new kinds of support for aging adults, from paid caregivers to social groups and senior day centers. These innovations in care are happening in fits and starts, in episodic and scattered ways, visible in certain circles more than others. By examining emergent discourses and practices of aging in Ghana, Changes in Care makes an innovative argument about the uneven and fragile processes by which some social change occurs.
There is a short film that accompanies the book, “Making Happiness: Older People Organize Themselves” (2020), an 11-minute film by Cati Coe. Available at: https://doi.org/doi:10.7282/t3-thke-hp15
The number of Americans eligible to receive Social Security benefits will increase from forty-five million to nearly eighty million in the next twenty years. Retirement systems must therefore adapt to meet the demands of the largest aging population in our nation’s history. In Developments in the Economics of Aging, David A. Wise and a distinguished group of analysts examine the economic issues that will confront policy makers as they seek to design policies to protect the economic and physical health of these older Americans.
The volume looks at such topics as factors influencing work and retirement decisions at older ages, changes in life satisfaction associated with retirement, and the shift in responsibility for managing retirement assets from professional money managers of traditional pension plans to individual account holders of 401(k)s. Developments in the Economics of Aging also addresses the complicated relationship between health and economic status, including why health behaviors vary across populations and how socioeconomic measures correlate with health outcomes.
"This extraordinary book is yet another example of a growing tradition—a literature of compelling and edifying oral history. Dr. Salber has worked for years in one of North Carolina's rural areas, and doing so, has come to know certain elderly people rather well. She has attended their physical complaints, but she has also wanted to know how they live, what they hope for, and what they worry about. She has asked them to speak on the record, to declare to others what occurs to them in the waning hours of their particular lives. The result is a series of American voices reminding us what it has been like for relatively vulnerable, if not defenseless, southern country folk in this rapidly disappearing 20th century. "They are men and women, blacks and whites, Dr. Salber's teachers. The North Carolinians in this book have no trouble giving us a good measure of open-eyed social comment, not to mention intelligent self-scrutiny and astute moral reflection. These pages glow with all that. . . . This book represents an intense and unyielding ethical as well as medical and literary commitment by a most impressive physician."—Robert Coles
Due to falling fertility rates, the aging of the baby-boom cohort, and increases in life expectancy, the percentage of the population that is elderly is expected to increase rapidly in the United States and Japan over the next two decades. These fourteen essays show that, despite differences in culture and social and government structure, population aging will have many similar macro and micro effects on the economic status and behavior of the elderly in both countries.
The most obvious effects will be on social programs such as public pension systems and the provision for medical needs of the elderly. But, the contributors demonstrate, aging will also affect markets for labor, capital, housing, and health care services. It will affect firms through their participation in the demand side of the labor market and through their provisions for pensions. And aging will influence saving rates, the rate of return on assets, the balance of payments, and, most likely, economic growth.
This volume will interest scholars and policy makers concerned with the economics of aging.
Embracing Age: How Catholic Nuns Became Models of Aging Well examines a community of individuals whose aging trajectories contrast mainstream American experiences. In mainstream American society, aging is presented as a “problem,” a state to be avoided as long as possible, a state that threatens one’s ability to maintain independence, autonomy, control over one’s surroundings. Aging “well” (or avoiding aging) has become a twenty-first century American preoccupation. Embracing Age provides a window into the everyday lives of American Catholic nuns who experience longevity and remarkable health and well-being at the end of life. Catholic nuns aren’t only healthier in older age, they are healthier because they practice a culture of acceptance and grace around aging. Embracing Age demonstrates how aging in the convent becomes understood by the nuns to be a natural part of the life course, not one to be feared or avoided. Anna I. Corwin shows readers how Catholic nuns create a cultural community that provides a model for how to grow old, decline, and die that is both embedded in American culture and quite distinct from other American models.
Winner of the Outstanding Publication Award, Section on Aging and the Life Course, American Sociological Association
Senior citizens from all walks of life face a gauntlet of physical, psychological, and social hurdles. But do the disadvantages some people accumulate over the course of their lives make their final years especially difficult? Or does the quality of life among poor and affluent seniors converge at some point? The End Game investigates whether persistent socioeconomic, racial, and gender divisions in America create inequalities that structure the lives of the elderly.
“Avoiding reductionist frameworks and showing the hugely varying lifestyles of Californian seniors, The End Game poses a profound question: how can provision of services for the elderly cater for individual circumstances and not merely treat the aged as one grey block? Abramson eloquently and comprehensively expounds this complex question.” —Michael Warren, LSE Review of Books
“The author’s approach situates inequality experienced by older Americans in a real world context and links culture, social life, biological life, and structural disparities in ways that allow readers to understand the intersectionality of diversity imbued in the lives of older Americans…Abramson opens a window into the reality of old age, the importance of culture and the impact it has on shared/prior experiences, and the inequalities that structure them.” —A. L. Lewis, Choice
Winner of the MLA Prize for Independent Scholars and the APA's Florence L. Denmark Award for Contributions to Women and Aging
When the term “ageism” was coined in 1969, many problems of exclusion seemed resolved by government programs like Social Security and Medicare. As people live longer lives, today’s great demotions of older people cut deeper into their self-worth and human relations, beyond the reach of law or public policy. In Ending Ageism, or How Not to Shoot Old People, award-winning writer and cultural critic Margaret Morganroth Gullette confronts the offenders: the ways people aging past midlife are portrayed in the media, by adult offspring; the esthetics and politics of representation in photography, film, and theater; and the incitement to commit suicide for those with early signs of “dementia.”
In this original and important book, Gullette presents evidence of pervasive age-related assaults in contemporary societies and their chronic affects. The sudden onset of age-related shaming can occur anywhere—the shove in the street, the cold shoulder at the party, the deaf ear at the meeting, the shut-out by the personnel office or the obtuseness of a government. Turning intimate suffering into public grievances, Ending Ageism, Or How Not to Shoot Old People effectively and beautifully argues that overcoming ageism is the next imperative social movement of our time.
About the cover image:
This elegant, dignified figure--Leda Machado, a Cuban old enough to have seen the Revolution--once the center of a vast photo mural, is now a fragment on a ruined wall. Ageism tears down the structures that all humans need to age well; to end it, a symbol of resilience offers us all brisk blue-sky energy.
“Leda Antonia Machado” from “Wrinkles of the City, 2012.”
Piotr Trybalski / Trybalski.com. Courtesy of the artist.
The nature and consequences of aging depend on its environmental context, and the literature does not treat the various environmental dimensions in an integrated fashion. The authors introduce a general approach to the human ecosystem, highlighting theoretical and empirical issues necessary to an understanding of person-environment interaction related to aging. They then investigate in detail three aspects of the environment of older persons: residential and neighborhood, interpersonal support networks, and age-related attitudes. They give specific attention to the impact of the age composition of neighborhoods and interpersonal networks. The authors present findings from their interview survey of 1,185 community residents aged 60 and over. Major findings from the interviews include:
Despite objective neighborhood problems, older persons express high neighborhood satisfaction. This partly reflects limited residential options, as well as a passive and vicarious spatial experience. The environment is experienced in diverse ways; however, urbanism and personal competence shape the nature and outcomes of person-environment interaction.
Older persons have relatively robust interpersonal support networks. Perceived sufficiency of contact and support are more salient to morale than are more objective measures of interpersonal support.
Although attitudes toward other older people are generally favorable, patterns of age identity reflect a detrimental view of aging. There is little evidence that socialization for aging or age-group solidarity make aging “easier” in this regard.
Older persons exhibit moderate age homogeneity within their interpersonal networks, partly reflecting neighborhood age concentration. Contrary to the apparent benefits of planned age-segregated housing, age homogeneity in neighborhoods and networks does not contribute to well-being.
The authors examine three major themes in their concluding chapter; age itself does not “loom large” in the lives of these community residents, though age becomes salient under certain conditions; there is diversity in the implications of the environmental context for aging, in particular reflecting an “environmental docility” hypothesis; and aging must be viewed in interactional or transactional terms—older people “construct” the environment as a subjective entity.
For more than a decade, The Graying of America has helped thousands of middle-aged and senior citizens find their way through the thickets and thorns of growing old. Now greatly revised and expanded to include information gleaned from studies of the past five years, this third edition has been retitled to stress its ongoing purpose: conveying a wealth of commonsense information for general readers in nontechnical language.
The book is a storehouse of concise, useful information on the effects of aging on health, the mind, and behavior. Its 588 entries (including 172 new and 150 substantially revised) cover a broad spectrum of topics—from adjusting to retirement to grandparenting, sleep disorders to Alzheimer’s disease. All are directed to the average reader; all stress successful aging and how to accomplish it.
New entries cover such topics as the incidence and causes of frailty, the cognitive benefits of diversified activity, and findings of the Women’s Health Initiative. There is new information on matters like the effects of untreated hearing impairment on spouses and the impact of insufficient exposure to sunlight on sleep, plus new insight into what to look for in searching for a quality nursing home for a loved one.
Also included are results of recent studies on interventions that help to reduce age-related declines in mental and physical health, among them revelations that reports on age-related declines in memory have been skewed by testing errors. And with memory a concern for seniors fearful of declining mental agility, the book tells how to bypass memory problems—such as how to remember where you parked your car—and how physical exercise and challenging mental games can help reduce the risk of dementia. Other “how to avoid” entries offer ways to protect against eye fatigue in computer use, hip fractures when falling, and back injuries while lifting heavy objects.
No other book is so specifically geared to the challenges of how to reduce or even eliminate many of the problems associated with growing old. Aging in the Twenty-First Century can help seniors come to grips with their own aging process—and help younger adults understand what is happening to older family members.
A deeply researched ethnographic portrait of progressive senior activists in Chicago who demonstrate how a tiny public wields collective power to advocate for broad social change.
If you've ever been to a protest or been involved in a movement for social change, you have likely experienced a local culture, one with slogans, jargon, and shared commitments. Though one might think of a cohort of youthful organizers when imagining protest culture, this powerful ethnography from esteemed sociologist Gary Alan Fine explores the world of senior citizens on the front lines of progressive protests. While seniors are a notoriously important—and historically conservative—political cohort, the group Fine calls “Chicago Seniors Together” is a decidedly leftist organization, inspired by the model of Saul Alinsky. The group advocates for social issues, such as affordable housing and healthcare, that affect all sectors of society but take on a particular urgency in the lives of seniors. Seniors connect and mobilize around their distinct experiences but do so in service of concerns that extend beyond themselves. Not only do these seniors experience social issues as seniors—but they use their age as a dramatic visual in advocating for political change.
In Fair Share, Fine brings readers into the vital world of an overlooked political group, describing how a “tiny public” mobilizes its demands for broad social change. In investigating this process, he shows that senior citizen activists are particularly savvy about using age to their advantage in social movements. After all, what could be more attention-grabbing than a group of passionate older people determinedly shuffling through snowy streets with canes, in wheelchairs, and holding walkers to demand healthcare equity, risking their own health in the process?
As America's population ages, economic research related to the elderly becomes increasingly important to public policy.
Frontiers in the Economics in Aging directs attention to four topics: the role of retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s in personal saving; the economics of health care; new advances in research methodology; and aging in relation to inequality. Some of the issues analyzed within these topics are the implications of rising personal retirement saving in recent years, how health and health insurance affect labor supply, and the effects of pensions on the distribution of wealth.
David Wise's lucid introduction provides an overview of each paper. In addition to this book's appeal for specialists and microeconomists, it offers immediately practical ideas and methods for shaping public policy. In fact, one of the papers in this volume, "The Taxation of Pensions: A Shelter Can Become a Trap," helped to spur new legislation that reformed laws on pension distribution.
A Generation of Change is an exceptional study of the nation's elderly, a population that has undergone profound changes in the years since World War II. As modern medicine extends the average life span and the baby boom generation begins to approach middle age, the number of older Americans is expected to more than double in the next century. Currently, 75 percent of U.S. health care expenditures go toward the elderly. But as national trends toward early retirement and low birthrate continue, an aging American population could face crises in meeting their financial and physical needs. According to Jacob S. Siegel in A Generation of Change, astute public planning must be informed by an understanding of the demographic, social, and economic characteristics of the older population, as it is today and as it will be in the coming years. Siegel employs census and survey data from 1950 through the mid-1980s to describe a population constantly shifting in its ethnic and gender composition, geographic distribution, marital and living arrangements, health, employment, and economic status. Surprisingly, there is tremendous disparity in the quality of life among the elderly. Although their average poverty rate is below that of the general population, there are dramatic levels of poverty among older women, who are far more likely than men to live alone or in institutions. As the elderly progress from the "young old" to the "aged old"—those over 85—sharp differences emerge as income and employment decrease and degrees of chronic illness increase. In addition, residential location influences the quality of health care and public assistance available to the elderly, an effect that may account for the marked migration of older people to Florida and Arizona. Siegel analyzes the full range of characteristics for this heterogenous population and, through comparisons with other age groups as well as with the elderly of the previous decades, portrays the crucial influence of social and economic conditions over the life course on the quality of later life. With our elderly population growing more numerous and long lived, accurate information about them is increasingly essential. A Generation of Change will serve as a valuable resource for policymakers seeking more effective solutions in critical areas such as housing, long-term health care, and the funding of Social Security and retirement programs. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series
Thanks to advances in technology, medicine, Social Security, and Medicare, old age for many Americans is characterized by comfortable retirement, good health, and fulfilling relationships. But there are also millions of people over 65 who struggle with poverty, chronic illness, unsafe housing, social isolation, and mistreatment by their caretakers. What accounts for these disparities among older adults? Sociologist Deborah Carr’s Golden Years? draws insights from multiple disciplines to illuminate the complex ways that socioeconomic status, race, and gender shape the nearly every aspect of older adults’ lives. By focusing on an often-invisible group of vulnerable elders, Golden Years? reveals that disadvantages accumulate across the life course and can diminish the well-being of many.
Carr connects research in sociology, psychology, epidemiology, gerontology, and other fields to explore the well-being of older adults. On many indicators of physical health, such as propensity for heart disease or cancer, black seniors fare worse than whites due to lifetimes of exposure to stressors such as economic hardships and racial discrimination and diminished access to health care. In terms of mental health, Carr finds that older women are at higher risk of depression and anxiety than men, yet older men are especially vulnerable to suicide, a result of complex factors including the rigid masculinity expectations placed on this generation of men. Carr finds that older adults’ physical and mental health are also closely associated with their social networks and the neighborhoods in which they live. Even though strong relationships with spouses, families, and friends can moderate some of the health declines associated with aging, women—and especially women of color—are more likely than men to live alone and often cannot afford home health care services, a combination that can be isolating and even fatal. Finally, social inequalities affect the process of dying itself, with white and affluent seniors in a better position to convey their end-of-life preferences and use hospice or palliative care than their disadvantaged peers.
Carr cautions that rising economic inequality, the lingering impact of the Great Recession, and escalating rates of obesity and opioid addiction, among other factors, may contribute to even greater disparities between the haves and the have-nots in future cohorts of older adults. She concludes that policies, such as income supplements for the poorest older adults, expanded paid family leave, and universal health care could ameliorate or even reverse some disparities.
A comprehensive analysis of the causes and consequences of later-life inequalities, Golden Years? demonstrates the importance of increased awareness, strong public initiatives, and creative community-based programs in ensuring that all Americans have an opportunity to age well.
By the year 2030, the average life expectancy of women in industrialized countries could reach ninety—exceeding that of men by about ten years. At the present time, postmenopausal women represent more than fifteen percent of the world’s population and this figure is likely to grow.
From an evolutionary perspective, these demographic numbers pose some intriguing questions. Darwinian theory holds that a successful life is measured in terms of reproduction. How is it, then, that a woman’s lifespan can greatly exceed her childbearing and childrearing years? Is this phenomenon simply a byproduct of improved standards of living, or do older women—grandmothers in particular—play a measurable role in increasing their family members’ biological success?
Until now, these questions have not been examined in a thorough and comprehensive manner. Bringing togethertheoretical and empirical work byinternationally recognized scholars in anthropology, psychology, ethnography, and the social sciences, Grandmotherhood explores the evolutionary purpose and possibilities of female post-generative life. Students and scholars of human evolution, anthropology, and even gerontology will look to this volume as a major contribution to the current literature in evolutionary studies.
For about a decade, one of the most influential forces in US anti-immigrant politics was the Minuteman Project. The armed volunteers made headlines patrolling the southern border. What drove their ethno-nationalist politics?
Jennifer L. Johnson spent hundreds of hours observing and interviewing Minutemen, hoping to answer that question. She reached surprising conclusions. While the public face of border politics is hypermasculine—men in uniforms, fatigues, and suits—older women were central to the Minutemen. Women mobilized support and took part in border missions. These women compel us to look beyond ideological commitments and material benefits in seeking to understand the appeal of right-wing politics. Johnson argues that the women of the Minutemen were motivated in part by the gendered experience of aging in America. In a society that makes old women irrelevant, aging white women found their place through anti-immigrant activism, which wedded native politics to their concern for the safety of their families. Grandmothers on Guard emphasizes another side of nationalism: the yearning for inclusion. The nation the Minutemen imagined was not only a space of exclusion but also one in which these women could belong.
Gray Love narrates stories about the most common themes – searching for and (perhaps) finding love. Forty-five men and women between ages 60 and 94 from diverse backgrounds talk about dating, starting or ending a relationship, embracing life alone or enjoying a partnered one. The longing for connection as old age encroaches is palpable here, with more and more senior singles searching online. Those who find new partners explore issues that most relationships encounter at any age, as well as some that are unique to elder relationships. These include having had previous partners and a complicated and deep personal history; family and friends’ reactions to an older person’s dating; alternative models to marriage (such as sharing space or living apart); having more than one partner at the same time; one’s aging body, appearance, and sexuality; and the pressure of time and the specter of illness and death.
Winner of the 2021 Excellence in Research and Scholarly Activity Award from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Finalist for the 2021 American Book Fest Best Book Awards
Aging is one of the most compelling issues today, with record numbers of seniors over sixty-five worldwide. Gray Matters: Finding Meaning in the Stories of Later Life examines a diverse array of cultural works including films, literature, and even art that represent this time of life, often made by people who are seniors themselves. These works, focusing on important topics such as housing, memory loss, and intimacy, are analyzed in dialogue with recent research to explore how “stories” illuminate the dynamics of growing old by blending fact with imagination. Gray Matters also incorporates the life experiences of seniors gathered from over two hundred in-depth surveys with a range of questions on growing old, not often included in other age studies works. Combining cultural texts, gerontology research, and observations from older adults will give all readers a fuller picture of the struggles and pleasures of aging and avoids over-simplified representations of the process as all negative or positive.
This second edition of The Graying of America greatly expands and updates the most comprehensive reference book on aging that is readily accessible to the lay reader.
Featuring nontechnical language, user-friendly indexes, and more than 150 new entries, the second edition covers new topics such as acupuncture, wheelchairs, adjusting to bifocals, preparing for traveling, improving communication with physicians, and avoiding eye strain in computer use. Among other updates are more detailed coverage of health problems including arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and various kinds of cancer, as well as advice on reducing the stress of caring for a family member with Alzheimer's disease. In addition to discussing hundreds of common ailments and conditions, Kausler and Kausler provide constructive guidance on regular physical activity, mental stimulation, and other behaviors that promote "successful aging."
Growing Old in a New China: Transitions in Elder Care is an accessible exploration of changing care arrangements in China. Combining anthropological theory, ethnographic vignettes, and cultural and social history, it sheds light on the growing movement from home-based to institutional elder care in urban China. The book examines how tensions between old and new ideas, desires, and social structures are reshaping the experience of caring and being cared for. Weaving together discussions of family ethics, care work, bioethics, aging, and quality of life, this book puts older adults at the center of the story. It explores changing relationships between elders and themselves, their family members, caregivers, society, and the state, and the attempts made within and across these relational webs to find balance and harmony. The book invites readers to ponder the deep implications of how and why we care and the ways end-of-life care arrangements complicate both living and dying for many elders.
History of Old Age is the first major study of the ways in which old age has been perceived in western culture throughout history. Georges Minois paints a vast fresco, starting with the first old man to relate his own story—an Egyptian scribe some 4500 years ago—and ending with the deaths of Elizabeth I and Henry IV in the sixteenth century. Tracing the changing conceptions of the nature, value, and burden of the old, Minois argues that western history during this period is marked by great fluctuation in the social and political role of the aged.
Minois shows how, in ancient Greece, the cult of youth and beauty on the one hand, and the reverence for the figure of the Homeric sage, on the other, created an ambivalent attitude toward the aged. This ambiguity appears again in the contrast between the active role that older citizens played in Roman politics and their depiction in satirical literature of the period. Christian literature in the Middle Ages also played a large part in defining society's perception of the old, both in the image of the revered holy sage and in the total condemnation of the aged sinner.
Drawing on literary texts throughout, Minois considers the interrelation of literary, religious, medical, and political factors in determining the social fate of the elderly and their relationship to society. This book will be of great interest to social and cultural historians, as well as to general readers interested in the subject of the aged in society today.
Do you want to age independently in your own home and neighborhood? Staying home, aging in place, is most people's preference, but most American housing and communities are not adapted to the needs of older people. And with the fastest population growth among people over 65, finding solutions for successful aging is important not only for individual families, but for our whole society. In Independent for Life, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and a team of experts on aging, architecture, construction, health, finance, and politics assess the current state of housing and present new possibilities that realistically address the interrelated issues of housing, communities, services, and financial concerns.
Independent for Life covers a wide range of smart solutions, including remodeling current housing and building new homes for accessibility and safety, retrofitting existing neighborhoods to connect needed services and amenities, and planning new communities that work well for people of all ages. Case studies show how the proposals can be implemented. The authors offer action plans for working with policy makers at local, state, and national levels to address the larger issues of aging in place, including family financial security, real estate markets, and the limitations of public support. Lists of essential resources, including a detailed "to do" list of aging in place priorities and an individual home assessment, complete the volume.
For over a decade, the National Bureau of Economic Research has sponsored the Economics of Aging Program, under the direction of David A. Wise. The program addresses issues that affect the well-being of individuals as they age and a society that is composed increasingly of older people.
Within the next twenty years, an unprecedented proportion of Americans will be over sixty-five. New research in the economics of aging is an essential element of understanding what the future holds for this aging population. Inquiries in the Economics of Aging presents both empirical papers that consider questions that are fundamental to public policy and more theoretical contributions that lay new groundwork for future research in the economics of aging.
Inquiries in the Economics of Aging provides a timely overview of some of the most important questions facing researchers on aging and outlines new techniques and models that may help to answer these questions. This important volume will be of great interest to specialists and policy makers as it paves the way for future analysis.
This companion volume to The Economics of Aging (1989) examines the economic consequences of an increasingly older population, focusing on the housing and living arrangements of the elderly, as well as their labor force participation and retirement.
If you are transgendered, the feeling of wanting your body to match the sex you feel you are never goes away. For some, though, especially those who grew up before trans people were widely out and advocating for equality, these feelings were often compartmentalized and rarely acted upon. Now that gender reassignment has become much more commonplace, many of these people may feel increasing pressure to finally undergo the procedures they have always secretly wanted.
Ken Koch was one of those people. Married twice, a veteran, and a world traveler, a health scare when he was sixty-three prompted him to acknowledge the feelings that had plagued him since he was a small child. By undergoing a host of procedures, he radically changed his appearance and became Anne Koch. In the process though, Anne lost everything that Ken had accomplished. She had to remake herself from the ground up. Hoping to help other people in her age bracket who may be considering transitioning, Anne describes the step by step procedures that she underwent, and shares the cost to her personal life, in order to show seniors that although it is never too late to become the person you always knew you were, it is better to go into that new life prepared for some serious challenges. Both a fascinating memoir of a well-educated man growing up trans yet repressed in the mid-twentieth century, and a guidebook to navigating the tricky waters of gender reassignment as a senior, It Never Goes Away shows how what we see in the television world of Transparent translates in real life.
For most sociologists, their life’s work does not end with retirement. Many professors and practitioners continue to teach, publish, or explore related activities after leaving academia. They also connect with others in the field to lessen the isolation they sometimes feel outside the ivory tower or an applied work setting.
The editors and twenty contributors to the essential anthology Journeys in Sociology use a life-course perspective to address the role of sociology in their lives. The power of their personal experiences—during the Great Depression, World War II, or the student protests and social movements in the 1960s and ‘70s—magnify how and why social change prompted these men and women to study sociology. Moreover, all of the contributors include a discussion of their activities in retirement.
From Bob Perrucci, Tuck Green, and Wendell Bell, who write about issues of class, to Debra Kaufman and Elinore Lurie, who explain how gender played a role in their careers, the diverse entries in Journeys in Sociology provide a fascinating look at both the influence of their lives on the discipline and the discipline on these sociologists’ lives.
Contributors include: David J. Armor, Wendell Bell, Glen H. Elder, Jr., Henry W. Fischer, Janet Zollinger Giele, Charles S. (Tuck) Green, Peter Mandel Hall, Elizabeth Higginbotham, Debra Renee Kaufman, Corinne Kirchner, Elinore E. Lurie, Gary T. Marx, Robert Perrucci, Fred Pincus, Thomas Scheff, Arthur Shostak, David Simon, Natalie J. Sokoloff, Edward Tiryakian, Joyce E. Williams, and the editors.
Published in collaboration with the American Sociological Association Opportunities in Retirement Network.
When youth shake off their rural roots and middle-aged people migrate for economic opportunities, what happens to the grandparents left at home? Linked Lives provides readers with intimate glimpses into homes in a Sri Lankan Buddhist village, where elders wisely use their moral authority and their control over valuable property to assure that they receive both physical and spiritual care when they need it. The care work that grandparents do for grandchildren allows labor migration and contributes to the overall well-being of the extended family. The book considers the efforts migrant workers make to build and buy houses and the ways those rooms and walls constrain social activities. It outlines the strategies elders employ to age in place, and the alternatives they face in local old folks’ homes. Based on ethnographic work done over a decade, Michele Gamburd shows how elders face the challenges of a rapidly globalizing world.
One of the most distinguished psychologists of the century, Bernice L. Neugarten is best known for her groundbreaking contributions to the study of adult development and aging. Covering more than forty years of scholarship, this volume brings together Neugarten's most important contributions in four areas: Age as a Dimension of Social Organization; The Life Course; Personality and Adaptation; and Social Policy Issues. Each section is introduced by an eminent authority in the area, including George L. Maddox, Gunhild O. Hagestad, David L. Gutmann, Robert H. Binstock, and Dail A. Neugarten, who explains and highlights Neugarten's contributions in light of the most recent research.
Carefully edited by Dail Neugarten, each chapter presents the reader with Bernice Neugarten's original formulations on topics such as age norms and age constraints, the changing meanings of age, and age neutral social policy. Including four previously unpublished papers, The Meanings of Age will be of interest to scholars, students, and practitioners of psychology, education, law, medicine, social policy, and gerontology.
In 2011, seven thousand American “baby boomers” (those born between 1946 and 1964) turned sixty-five daily. As this largest U.S. generation ages, cities, municipalities, and governments at every level must grapple with the allocation of resources and funding for maintaining the quality of life, health, and standard of living for an aging population.
In The New Neighborhood Senior Center, Joyce Weil uses in-depth ethnographic methods to examine a working-class senior center in Queens, New York. She explores the ways in which social structure directly affects the lives of older Americans and traces the role of political, social, and economic institutions and neighborhood processes in the decision to close such centers throughout the city of New York.
Many policy makers and gerontologists advocate a concept of “aging in place,” whereby the communities in which these older residents live provide access to resources that foster and maintain their independence. But all “aging in place” is not equal and the success of such efforts depends heavily upon the social class and availability of resources in any given community. Senior centers, expanded in part by funding from federal programs in the 1970s, were designed as focal points in the provision of community-based services. However, for the first wave of “boomers,” the role of these centers has come to be questioned.
Declining government support has led to the closings of many centers, even as the remaining centers are beginning to “rebrand” to attract the boomer generation. However, The New Neighborhood Senior Centerdemonstrates the need to balance what the boomers’ want from centers with the needs of frailer or more vulnerable elders who rely on the services of senior centers on a daily basis. Weil challenges readers to consider what changes in social policies are needed to support or supplement senior centers and the functions they serve.
Since they began in 1955, the Duke Longitudinal Studies have aging have been regarded as landmark investigations, amassing invaluable data on the typical physical changes that accompany aging, typical patterns of mental health and mental illness, psychological aging, and the normal social roles, self-concepts, satisfactions, and adjustments to retirement of the aged. Comprising information on more than 750 aged and middle-aged persons, these studies have contributed enormously to our ability to distinguish normal and inevitable processes of aging from those that may accompany aging because of accident, stress, maladjustment, or disuse.
Since they began in 1955, the Duke Longitudinal Studies have aging have been regarded as landmark investigations, amassing invaluable data on the typical physical changes that accompany aging, typical patterns of mental health and mental illness, psychological aging, and the normal social roles, self-concepts, satisfactions, and adjustments to retirement of the aged. Comprising information on more than 750 aged and middle-aged persons, these studies have contributed enormously to our ability to distinguish normal and inevitable processes of aging from those that may accompany aging because of accident, stress, maladjustment, or disuse.
Between 1870 and 1940, life expectancy in the United States skyrocketed while the percentage of senior citizens age sixty-five and older more than doubled—a phenomenon owed largely to innovations in medicine and public health. At the same time, the Great Depression was a major tipping point for age discrimination and poverty in the West: seniors were living longer and retiring earlier, but without adequate means to support themselves and their families. The economic disaster of the 1930s alerted scientists, who were actively researching the processes of aging, to the profound social implications of their work—and by the end of the 1950s, the field of gerontology emerged. Old Age, New Science explores how a group of American and British life scientists contributed to gerontology’s development as a multidisciplinary field. It examines the foundational “biosocial visions” they shared, a byproduct of both their research and the social problems they encountered. Hyung Wook Park shows how these visions shaped popular discourses on aging, directly influenced the institutionalization of gerontology, and also reflected the class, gender, and race biases of their founders.
Of the 15,000 nursing homes in the United States, how many are places you’d want to visit, much less live in? Now that people are living longer and more of the population are elderly, this question is more important than ever, particularly for people with disabilities. We must transform long-term care into an experience we and our loved ones can face without dread. It can be done. The Penelope Project shows how by taking readers on an ambitious journey to create a long-term care community that engages its residents in challenging, meaningful art-making.
At Milwaukee’s Luther Manor, a team of artists from the University of Wisconsin’s theatre department and Sojourn Theatre Company, university students, staff, residents, and volunteers traded their bingo cards for copies of The Odyssey. They embarked on a two-year project to examine this ancient story from the perspective of the hero who never left home: Penelope, wife of Odysseus. Together, the team staged a play that engaged everyone and transcended the limits not just of old age and disability but also youth, institutional regulations, and disciplinary boundaries.
Inviting readers to see through the eyes of residents, students, artists, staff, family members, and experts in the fields of education, long-term care, and civically engaged arts practice, this book underscores the essential role of the arts and humanities in living richly. Waiting, as Penelope waited, need not be a time of loss and neglect. The Penelope Project boldly dreams of how to make late life a time of growth and learning. If you dream of improving people’s lives through creative endeavors, this book provides practical advice.
Hospices have played a critical role in transforming ideas about death and dying. Viewing death as a natural event, hospices seek to enable people approaching mortality to live as fully and painlessly as possible. Award-winning medical historian Emily K. Abel provides insight into several important issues surrounding the growth of hospice care. Using a unique set of records, Prelude to Hospice expands our understanding of the history of U.S. hospices. Compiled largely by Florence Wald, the founder of the first U.S. hospice, the records provide a detailed account of her experiences studying and caring for dying people and their families in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although Wald never published a report of her findings, she often presented her material informally. Like many others seeking to found new institutions, she believed she could garner support only by demonstrating that her facility would be superior in every respect to what currently existed. As a result, she generated inflated expectations about what a hospice could accomplish. Wald’s records enable us to glimpse the complexities of the work of tending to dying people.
From two leading experts, a revolutionary new way to think about and measure aging.
Aging is a complex phenomenon. We usually think of chronological age as a benchmark, but it is actually a backward way of defining lifespan. It tells us how long we’ve lived so far, but what about the rest of our lives?
In this pathbreaking book, Warren C. Sanderson and Sergei Scherbov provide a new way to measure individual and population aging. Instead of counting how many years we’ve lived, we should think about the number of years we have left, our “prospective age.” Two people who share the same chronological age probably have different prospective ages, because one will outlive the other. Combining their forward-thinking measure of our remaining years with other health metrics, Sanderson and Scherbov show how we can generate better demographic estimates, which inform better policies. Measuring prospective age helps make sense of observed patterns of survival, reorients understanding of health in old age, and clarifies the burden of old-age dependency. The metric also brings valuable data to debates over equitable intergenerational pensions.
Sanderson and Scherbov’s pioneering model has already been adopted by the United Nations. Prospective Longevity offers us all an opportunity to rethink aging, so that we can make the right choices for our societal and economic health.
Lessons in resilience in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in India.
Focusing on the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in India between April and December 2021, Rustom Bharucha’s timely essay reflects on four interconnected realities that haunted this ongoing crisis—death, grief, mourning, and extinction. How do we cope with multiple deaths and the dislocation of rituals when the act of mourning is either postponed or denied? What roles do political surveillance, censorship, the regulation of lockdowns, and the sheer indifference to the lives of people play in the containment of civil liberties? Through vivid examples of photography, theater, dance, visual arts, and the cultures of everyday life, this meditative essay illuminates both the horror of the pandemic as well as its unexpected intimacies and revelations of shared suffering. Against the destruction of nature and the disrespect for the nonhuman, The Second Wave offers lessons in resilience through its reflections on the ethos of waiting and the need to re-envision breath as a vital resource of self-renewal and resistance.
As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the number of senior citizens as a proportion of the overall electorate is going to reach record numbers. This fact prompted Brittany Bramlett to ask: When senior citizens make up a large proportion of the local population, are they politically more powerful, or are they perhaps more powerless?
In Senior Power or Senior Peril, Bramlett examines the assertions that the increasing number of older adult-concentrated communities across the United States form a growing bloc of senior power that will influence the redistribution of particularized welfare benefits to older adults at the expense of younger people. However, others suggest that political influence declines with old age. Bramlett uses interviews and on-site research at various senior communities to explore what qualities make an aged community politically unique, and the impact of the local aged context on residents' political knowledge, safety-net policy attitudes, efficacy, and political activity.
This path-breaking book identifies the political behaviors, attitudes, and political consciousness of both older and younger residents as it recounts the perceived and actual political power of seniors.
In the series The Social Logic of Politics, edited by Scott McClurg
In 2012, over 50 percent of those patronizing a casino were over 50 years of age. Have casinos become today's senior center? Come with Amy Ziettlow as she travels through America's casinos, eating at the buffets, playing the slots, and talking to as many seniors as she can. A stark picture emerges.
Now that the goverment is the biggest sponsor of casino gaming, all of us--even those who never visit casinos--have to ask: Are we turning a blind eye to a government-sponsored predator that creates false community, drains personal finances, and undermines dignity for those most vulnerable among us? Read this first-hand report from the glitzy, senior-filled trenches of "Casino Land."
Erdman Palmore has written a comprehensive, systematic summary of all extant findings on social patterns in normal aging learned from the landmark Duke Longitudinal Studies in aging. Palmore discusses the implications of these findings for major issues in gerontology and answers such questions as: Do elderly people reduce their social activity? Do they come to resemble one another or become more different as they age? Do major events in later life produce stress resulting in physical and/or mental illnesses? Does sexual activity maintain or reduce life satisfaction and longevity? Palmore's conclusions challenge many current ideas and prejudices widely held about people over the age of 65.
Seven in ten Americans over the age of age of sixty who require medical decisions in the final days of their life lack the capacity to make them. For many of us, our biggest, life-and-death decisions—literally—will therefore be made by someone else. They will decide whether we live or die; between long life and quality of life; whether we receive heroic interventions in our final hours; and whether we die in a hospital or at home. They will determine whether our wishes are honored and choose between fidelity to our interests and what is best for themselves or others. Yet despite their critical role, we know remarkably little about how our loved ones decide for us.
Speaking for the Dying tells their story, drawing on daily observations over more than two years in two intensive care units in a diverse urban hospital. From bedsides, hallways, and conference rooms, you will hear, in their own words, how physicians really talk to families and how they respond. You will see how decision makers are selected, the interventions they weigh in on, the information they seek and evaluate, the values and memories they draw on, the criteria they weigh, the outcomes they choose, the conflicts they become embroiled in, and the challenges they face. Observations also provide insight into why some decision makers authorize one aggressive intervention after the next while others do not—even on behalf of patients with similar problems and prospects. And they expose the limited role of advance directives in structuring the process decision makers follow or the outcomes that result.
Research has consistently found that choosing life or death for another is one of the most difficult decisions anyone can face, sometimes haunting families for decades. This book shines a bright light on a role few of us will escape and offers steps that patients and loved ones, health care providers, lawyers, and policymakers could undertake before it is too late.
How can plays and performances, past and present, inform our understanding of ageing? Drawing primarily on the Western dramatic canon, on contemporary British theater, on popular culture, and on paratheatrical practices, Staging Ageing investigates theatrical engagement with ageing from the Greek chorus to Reminiscence Theater. It also explores the relationship of the plays, performances, and practices to the material, social, and ideological conditions that produced them. A seminal work on the cultural past and present of ageing, the book will find grateful audiences not only among scholars but also among theater and health care professionals.
Studies in the Economics of Aging is the fourth book in a series from the National Bureau of Economic Research that addresses economic issues in aging and retirement. Building on the research in The Economics of Aging (1989), Issues in the Economics of Aging (1990), and Topics in the Economics of Aging (1992), this volume examines elderly population growth and government spending, life expectancy and health, saving for retirement and housing values, aging in Germany and Taiwan, and the utilization of nursing home and other long-term care.
In recent decades, the North American public has pursued an inspirational vision of successful aging—striving through medical technique and individual effort to eradicate the declines, vulnerabilities, and dependencies previously commonly associated with old age. On the face of it, this bold new vision of successful, healthy, and active aging is highly appealing. But it also rests on a deep cultural discomfort with aging and being old.
The contributors to Successful Agingas a Contemporary Obsession explore how the successful aging movement is playing out across five continents. Their chapters investigate a variety of people, including Catholic nuns in the United States; Hindu ashram dwellers; older American women seeking plastic surgery; aging African-American lesbians and gay men in the District of Columbia; Chicago home health care workers and their aging clients; Mexican men foregoing Viagra; dementia and Alzheimer sufferers in the United States and Brazil; and aging policies in Denmark, Poland, India, China, Japan, and Uganda. This book offers a fresh look at a major cultural and public health movement of our time, questioning what has become for many a taken-for-granted goal—aging in a way that almost denies aging itself.
In the past few years, the economic ramifications of aging have garnered close attention from a group of NBER researchers led by David A. Wise. In this volume, Wise and his collaborators continue to analyze a nexus of age-related issues.
This volume begins by looking at the implications of private and public personal retirement plans, focusing in particular on the impact of 401(k) programs on retirement strategies in light of potential social security reform and factors such as annuitization and on asset accumulation. Next, the often-observed relationship between health and wealth is dissected from two different perspectives and correlated with striking increases in health-care spending over the past two decades, despite the improved health of older populations. The volume concludes with an investigation of the retirement effects of various social security provisions in both U.S. and German systems.
This carefully developed collection expands the current investigative focus and broadens the dialogue on a rapidly growing area of social and economic concern.
In Through Japanese Eyes, based on her thirty-year research at a senior center in upstate New York, anthropologist Yohko Tsuji describes old age in America from a cross-cultural perspective. Comparing aging in America and in her native Japan, she discovers that notable differences in the panhuman experience of aging are rooted in cultural differences between these two countries, and that Americans have strongly negative attitudes toward aging because it represents the antithesis of cherished American values, especially independence. Tsuji reveals that American culture, despite its seeming lack of guidance for those aging, plays a pivotal role in elders’ lives, simultaneously assisting and constraining them. Furthermore, the author’s lengthy period of research illustrates major changes in her interlocutors’ lives, incorporating their declines and death, and significant shifts in the culture of aging in American society as Tsuji herself gets to know American culture and grows into senescence herself.
Through Japanese Eyes offers an ethnography of aging in America from a cross-cultural perspective based on a lengthy period of research. It illustrates how older Americans cope with the gap between the ideal (e.g., independence) and the real (e.g., needing assistance) of growing older, and the changes the author observed over thirty years of research.
The original essays and commentary in this volume—the third in a series reporting the results of the NBER Economics of Aging Program—address issues that are of particular importance to the well-being of individuals as they age and to a society at large that is composed increasingly of older persons. The contributors examine social security reform, including an analysis of the Japanese system; present the startling finding that the vast majority of people choose the wrong accumulation strategies for their pension plans; explore the continuing consequences of the decline in support of parents by children in the postwar period; investigate the relation between nursing home stays and the source of payment for the care; and offer initial findings on the implications of differences between developed and developing countries for understanding aging issues and determining appropriate directions for research.
Transnational Aging and Reconfigurations of Kin Work documents the social and material contributions of older persons to their families in settings shaped by migration, their everyday lives in domestic and community spaces, and in the context of intergenerational relationships and diasporas. Much of this work is oriented toward supporting, connecting, and maintaining kin members and kin relationships—the work that enables a family to reproduce and regenerate itself across generations and across the globe.
In the United States anti-aging is a multibillion-dollar industry, and efforts to combat signs of aging have never been stronger, or more lucrative. Although there are many sociological studies of aging and culture, there are few studies that examine the ways cultural texts construct multiple narratives of aging that intersect and sometimes conflict with existing social theories of aging. In Uncanny Subjects: Aging in Contemporary Narrative, Amelia DeFalco contributes to the ongoing discourse of aging studies by incorporating methodologies and theories derived from the humanities in her investigation into contemporary representations of aging.
The movement of aging is the movement of our lives, and this dynamism aligns aging with narrative: both are a function of time, of change, of one event happening after another. Subjects understand their lives through narrative trajectories—through stories—not necessarily as they are living moment to moment, but in reflection, reflection that becomes, many argue, more and more prevalent as one ages. As a result, narrative fiction provides compelling representations of the strange—indeed uncanny—familiarity of the aging self.
In Uncanny Subjects, DeFalco explores a thematic similitude in a range of contemporary fiction and film by authors and directors such as John Banville, John Cassavetes, and Alice Munro. As their texts suggest, proceeding into old age involves a growing awareness of the otherness within, an awareness that reveals identity as multiple, shifting, and contradictory—in short, uncanny. Drawing together theories of the uncanny with research on aging and temporality, DeFalco argues that aging is a category of difference integral to a contemporary understanding of identity and alterity.
As millions of baby boomers retire and age in the coming years, more American families will confront difficult choices about the long-term care of their loved ones. The swelling ranks of the disabled and elderly who need such care—including home care, adult day care, or a nursing home stay—are faced with a strained, inequitable and expensive system. How will American society and policy adapt to this demographic transition? In Universal Coverage of Long-Term Care in the United States, editors Nancy Folbre and Douglas Wolf and an expert group of care researchers assess the current U.S. long-term care policies and exercise what can be learned from other countries facing similar care demands. After the high-profile suspension of the Obama Administration’s public long-term insurance program in 2011, Robert Hudson and Howard Gleckman provide concrete suggestions for lowering the cost and improving the quality of long-term care coverage in America. In a deeply personal and empirically rigorous analysis, family care expert Carol Levine draws crucial lessons from her experience as a caregiver for her ailing husband. She sheds light on the often fraught interactions that occur between the formal care system and family caregivers and analyzes how public policy can best support long-term family care. The volume next examines recent reforms in other developed countries and finds valuable lessons for American policy-makers. Contributors David Bell and Alison Bowes discuss the provision of personal care services in Scotland, which have been publicly financed since 2002. Their analysis shows that the new program reduced costs improved efficiency and allowed more recipients to receive care. The volume assesses the political and institutional prospects for moving towards a truly universal long-term care system in the United States. Robyn Stone provides a sobering overview of the formal, paid long-term care workforce in America, which is in crisis due to increasing demand and a shortage of qualified workers. Economist Leonard Burman focuses on public finances of the long-term care system, which will come under increasing strain as more Americans rely on Medicaid to pay for their long-term care. In the volume’s concluding chapter, Folbre and Wolf summarize criticisms of existing long-term care policies and outline particular reforms that can move the United States toward a universal system of long-term care insurance. Universal Coverage of Long-Term Care in the United States provides an essential resource on how to improve the long-term care sector in America and helps advance the national debate on this pressing topic. This volume is available for free download on the Foundation’s website, as are the volume’s individual chapters.
Winner of the 2022 Memoir Prize for Books - Caregiving category ESS Public Sociology Award Recommended Book in Domestic Violence by DomesticShelters.org
How do you go about caregiving for an ill and elderly parent with a lifelong history of abuse and control, intertwined with expressions of intense love and adoration? How do you reconcile the resulting ambivalence, fear, and anger?
Welcome to Wherever We Are is a meditation on what we hold onto, what we let go of, how we remember others and ultimately how we’re remembered. Deborah Cohan shares her story of caring for her father, a man who was simultaneously loud, gentle, loving and cruel and whose brilliant career as an advertising executive included creating slogans like “Hey, how ‘bout a nice Hawaiian punch?” Wrestling with emotional extremes that characterize abusive relationships, Cohan shows how she navigated life with a man who was at once generous and affectionate, creating magical coat pockets filled with chocolate kisses when she was a little girl, yet who was also prone to searing, vicious remarks like “You’d make my life easier if you’d commit suicide.”
In this gripping memoir, Cohan tells her unique personal story while also weaving in her expertise as a sociologist and domestic abuse counselor to address broader questions related to marriage, violence, divorce, only children, intimacy and loss. A story most of us can relate to as we reckon with past and future choices against the backdrop of complicated family dynamics, Welcome to Wherever We Are is about how we might come to live our own lives better amidst unpredictable changes through grief and healing.
Questions for Discussion (https://d3tto5i5w9ogdd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/11140346/Cohan_Discussion.docx)
In What Does It Mean to Grow Old? essayists come to grips as best they can with the phenomenon of an America that is about to become the Old Country. They have been drawn from every relevant discipline—gerontology, social medicine, politics, health, anthropology, ethics, law—and asked to speak their mind. Most of them write extremely well [and their] sharply individual voices are heard.
The number of elderly and disabled adults who require assistance with day-to-day activities is expected to double over the next twenty-five years. As a result, direct care workers such as home care aides and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) will become essential to many more families. Yet these workers tend to be low-paid, poorly trained, and receive little respect. Is such a workforce capable of addressing the needs of our aging population? In Who Will Care for Us? economist Paul Osterman assesses the challenges facing the long-term care industry. He presents an innovative policy agenda that reconceives direct care workers’ work roles and would improve both the quality of their jobs and the quality of elder care.
Using national surveys, administrative data, and nearly 120 original interviews with workers, employers, advocates, and policymakers, Osterman finds that direct care workers are marginalized and often invisible in the health care system. While doctors and families alike agree that good home care aides and CNAs are crucial to the well-being of their patients, the workers report poverty-level wages, erratic schedules, exclusion from care teams, and frequent incidences of physical injury on the job. Direct care workers are also highly constrained by policies that specify what they are allowed to do on the job, and in some states are even prevented from simple tasks such as administering eye drops.
Osterman concludes that broadening the scope of care workers’ duties will simultaneously boost the quality of care for patients and lead to better jobs and higher wages. He proposes integrating home care aides and CNAs into larger medical teams and training them as “health coaches” who educate patients on concerns such as managing chronic conditions and transitioning out of hospitals. Osterman shows that restructuring direct care workers’ jobs, and providing the appropriate training, could lower health spending in the long term by reducing unnecessary emergency room and hospital visits, limiting the use of nursing homes, and lowering the rate of turnover among care workers.
As the Baby Boom generation ages, Who Will Care for Us? demonstrates the importance of restructuring the long-term care industry and establishing a new relationship between direct care workers, patients, and the medical system.
Today, approximately 1.6 million American children live in what social scientists call “grandfamilies”—households in which children are being raised by their grandparents. In You’ve Always Been There for Me, Rachel Dunifon uses data gathered from grandfamilies in New York to analyze their unique strengths and distinct needs. Though grandfamilies can benefit from the accumulated wisdom of mature adults raising children for a second time, Dunifon notes, such families also face high rates of health problems as well as parenting challenges related to a large generation gap. Grandfamilies are also largely hidden in American society, flying under the radar of social service agencies, policymakers, and family researchers. This book gives family researchers a greater understanding of a unique family form, and also offers service providers, policymakers and the general public important information about the lives of an important group of American families.