Psychology of Aging and Euthanasia Research Paper

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Psychology of Age and Euthanasia

Aging is inevitable; it happens to all of us and as much as we wish we could, there is simply no way to stop or reverse the aging process. It is defined as the accumulation of changes in an organism or object over a period of time. Aging in humans refers to a multi-dimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change. Some people age gracefully, while others do not fare as well.

Our society tends to view physical changes to our exterior appearance, in a negative light. As we get older, we notice small appearance changes over time. For some people that are a difficult adjustment because appearance plays a large role in our sense of identity. Some of the physical changes to occur when we get older include: sagging skin, frown lines, wrinkles, loss of hearing, vision deterioration and gray hair.

Some individuals attempt to combat aging of the skin with creams, lotions, make-up, medication, and even plastic surgery, to diminish the appearance of skin wrinkling. As we age, our vision tends to get worse. Those who are nearsighted in their early years, find they are farsighted later on, creating the need for bi-focal and multi-focal glasses. Hearing loss is another aspect of the aging process. Those who suffer from this, must wear a hearing aid to be able to carry on normal activities. The way one ages on the outside can have a detrimental or advantageous effect, depending on the individual point-of-view.

Aside from outward appearances, there are many other psychological facets to the aging process; those that delve deeper into mental health and well-being. One of the most reliable findings in social gerontology is that with age, people report fewer social partners.

Assuming that cultural ageism is responsible, researchers had construed this phenomenon as

society's rejection of older adults. Laura Carstensen's (1999) socioemotional selectivity theory, however, posits that decrease in social network size is a developmental process of social selection that begins in early adulthood. According to the theory, this decrease is the direct result of people's actively reducing the number of peripheral social partners with whom they interact; in contrast, the number of emotionally close social partners stays relatively constant with age. The age-related preference for close social partners, as opposed to acquaintances, is documented in many studies of men and women using ethnicity diverse groups of Americans,

with a few groups from Europe and China.

Children are sources of high satisfaction for parents of all ages. Karen Fingerman's

(2003) research reveals that middle-aged mothers enjoy watching their daughters enter adulthood, and older mothers benefit from the intergenerational kinship that their children and grandchildren provide. The relationships between parents and children are marked by reciprocity, with both generations reporting high levels of shared emotional and instrumental support. The type of instrumental support, however, varies by age, such that older parents are more likely to provide financial support, and their middle-aged children are more likely to provide practical assistance.

In addition to family members, friends play a significant role in social processes and well-being across adulthood for both men and women. Although findings are conflicting, men generally report larger social networks than women, and women's friendships are marked by greater intimacy, mutual self-disclosure, and greater emotional support. Men often report less satisfaction with their friendships than women, but the greater emotional bonds women experience may also be detrimental: Women are more likely to report more burden from their friendships than men.

Whether with family or friends, social connection is necessary and essential to overall well-being. Having meaningful relations is associated with decreased reactivity to stressors, greater immune functioning, decreased risk of some diseases such as hypertension, faster recovery from illness, lower chances of relapse, and even lower risk of mortality. In fact, measures of social support, such as the absence or loss of social ties, are as important in predicting mortality as other known medical indicators, such as cholesterol level and smoking history. Social connection is also important to emotional well-being, including lower rates of depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance.

Current knowledge suggests that social processes do not diminish in importance across the adult life span. For every age group, social connections are necessary for physical and mental well-being. Developmental processes, however, alter the structure and meaning of social relationships; over time, the number of social partners decreases, but the meaning of close friends and family members becomes even more central to the daily lives of older men and women.

Along with psychological health, chronic diseases are a fact of life for aging adults, which contributes to the diminishment of life, disability and the increase the cost of long-term health care. The number of older individuals is expected to increase in number and this will affect the penalties for public health, delivery systems, health care financing, informal caregiving, and pension systems. In some Countries, much more attention is given to the aging population, and an extensive number of these individuals and growing amount of chronic disease will place tension on resources in countries where simple public health concerns are yet to be tackled fully.

The patient monitoring market will potentially grow because of the costs of managing the aging patients. The increase in the aging population will end in the increase requirement for health care services in general, and this includes monitoring devices. Remote patient monitoring segments and Tele-health will be needed more with in-patient care units to extensive applications in hospitals, and ambulatory care. "The expanding incidence and diagnosis of diabetes will promote greater precautionary testing and data acquisition from patient monitors into paperless charting systems (EMR's). The usage of Electronic Medical Record's will not only be a great driver for spending in the patient monitoring market but also increase patient awareness among medical professionals. Many chronic conditions affect the older population.

These conditions include epilepsy, risk of ovarian cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis related fractures. There are over 38% of the older population that is over the age of 65 years old, who suffer from diabetes, and 1.5 million older America's have Parkinson's disease; each year over 60,000 new cases are diagnosed. Over 70% of men who are over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and 46% will be having knee replacement surgery. In less than 25 years, the older population will have a rapid growth and over 70 million Americans will be over 65 years of age.

The fear of dying is common among many people no matter what age. Many factors affect the way that people can cope with dying. People may view death in a broad context of opinions and feelings. A teenager may not think about their death or another's because they live life more in the moment. However, someone in late adulthood may have death constantly on his or her mind. They either choose to accept it as part of life or may dwell on it enough that it makes their quality of life less. Each different part of a human's lifespan will have certain feelings depending on their age as well as experiences with deaths of family and friends.

Social qualities of a dying person's life may determine to what extent he or she can enjoy their last days. Family members may offer hope in a time of fear and help complete last tasks that a dying person could not do him or herself. Often many people chose to isolate themselves from the dying person as this is how he or she cope's with a loved one's impending death. Roles within the family unit may also be reversed and a person who used to be the primary care-giver is now being taken care of. An important factor to remember when coping with death is to honest with…[continue]

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