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If anything, such a person may have regrets over having wasted too much of life on impersonal achievements and selfish pursuits.
6. Do you agree that in later life men become more nurturing and women more assertive? What do you think are the findings that could support or challenge that observation?
The observation that men tend to become more nurturing, less competitive, less aggressive, and "gentler" in later life and that women tend to become less emotional and more confident or assertive would seem to be substantially true. That is largely attributable to hormonal changes; specifically, aging males tend to produce much less testosterone and post-menopausal females secrete less estrogen in their later years (Pinker, 2002). Naturally, those hormonal changes would be expected to result in various behavioral changes in areas where human behavior (and gender-specific behavior in particular) are products of the secondary sex hormones (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2008; Pinker, 2002).
Findings capable of supporting those observations in relation to males would include anecdotal information from families as well as from aging male subjects themselves. Empirical data consistent with support for that hypothesis in its application to males includes declining arrest rates, aggression-related driving violations, and both verbal arguments and physical altercations among males in the age range associated with substantially declining testosterone levels. Findings capable of supporting those observations in relation to females would include anecdotal information from families as well as from aging female subjects themselves. Empirical data consistent with support for that hypothesis in its application to females would include increased pursuit of activities and goals typically considered intimidating by many females. Additionally, increased measures of female independence (such as initiating divorce, pursuing sexual interests, and opening businesses) would also seem to support the hypothesis in relation to females.
7. Generate a situation of your own creation in which an elder would face a stressor and demonstrate coping. Identify the stressor, the person's primary and secondary appraisal, and the person's choices of coping strategies. What would indicate adaptive coping? Less adaptive?
One of the most common situational stressors experienced by individuals during the transition from middle age to late stages of life would be the gradual reduction in and eventual loss of driving ability. In many cases, driving is one of the most important factors that allow aging individuals to remain independent, especially in geographic regions where public transportation is comparatively unavailable, unsafe, or unreliable (Birren & Schaie, 2006). An aging individual who manages to cope well with the gradual loss of driving abilities would typically begin making appropriate plans for maintaining his or her daily routines as soon as it began to become apparent that it will soon be impractical to continue driving. In some cases, that might involve practicing the use of public transportation beforehand so that by the time driving is no longer an option, competence and confidence will have already been achieved using public transportation. In other cases, coping with the loss of driving abilities or privileges might necessitate relocating as a primary coping mechanism to reduce the necessity of relying on that mode of transportation (Birren & Schaie, 2006).
Generally, the primary appraisal would involve assessing the need for alternate transportation and the willingness of the individual to recognize the need to adapt. Secondary appraisal would consist largely of the degree to which the individual manages to maintain interests and routines through that coping strategy. Conversely, less adaptive coping would include denial of the need to make changes and insistence on driving until a major incident such as a traffic accident. Another example of less adaptive coping would be simply giving up any activities that require transportation instead of coping.
8. Why is perception of control such an important part of nursing home life? How could persons with non-severe dementia have opportunities for control?
The transition from independent living to assisted dependent living situations almost always includes an element of depression by virtue of the loss of autonomy and control, especially over ordinary aspects of life such as when to eat and what to do with one's free time (Birren & Schaie, 2006). Even in the best-case scenarios, it may be impossible to negotiate the initial stage of transition from independent living to assisted living without some degree of acute depression (Birren & Schaie, 2006).
Generally, the more connected the aging individual is to a support network of friends and family after moving to an assisted living facility, the less dramatic the difference in life may be from the person's perspective (Birren & Schaie, 2006).Equally important is the ability to maintain autonomous control over one's life because it can be extremely difficult to cope with having others make decisions that the individual has been able to make throughout adult life. For that reason, one of the most helpful approaches to running assisted living facilities is to recognize the relative psychological significance of allowing the individual as much control as practicable. In principle, assisted living facility administrators can help their patients avoid depression and maintain the most satisfying life that is possible for them by limiting controls on their lives to those that are actually necessary, whether by law, medical condition, or other practical circumstances (Birren & Schaie, 2006).
Ideally, assisted living facility residents should, therefore, be allowed to decide how they want to spend their time, when they want to go to bed and get up in the morning to the greatest extent possible without compromising their health, safety, or welfare, and without interfering with operations or the corresponding rights of other facility residents.
9. Why is it that caregivers of cognitively or physically frail elders often continue to feel stressed even after the family members they were caring for enter nursing homes? If you were going to design a support program for these caregivers, what would you include and why?
There are several different reasons that caregivers of cognitively or physically frail individuals often experience stress rather than relief when their dependent family members finally enter nursing homes or other assisted living facilities. First, many of them experience guilt over perceptions of not having worked hard enough to avoid having to resort to nursing homes. Second, because dementia and other forms of age-related cognitive impairment often results in the loss of reality and judgement, the transition to assisted living is often strongly opposed by the patient. In many cases, this greatly exacerbates the existing doubts and guilt in the minds of family members, especially when combined with explicit statements and accusations from the patient (Birren & Schaie, 2006).
Even where the patient is more accepting of the circumstances, the family members typically experience a sense of loss that is common anytime there is a major change in the living circumstances of family members. In that regard, it is human nature to focus on having lost the comparatively good times while downplaying or even forgetting some of the worst times that precipitated the need to resort to assisted living (Birren & Schaie, 2006). Therefore, a support program for family members should include mental exercises emphasizing the specific problems and concerns that were issues in the decision. Additionally, that program could include mental exercises to imagine the ways that continuing to care for elderly family members who were unable to care for themselves any longer would have required sacrifices that would have been unfair to other family members.
10. If you were asked to craft an elder abuse prevention education program directed to family caregivers, what would you include in the program and why?
A good elder abuse prevention program would include lessons about the nature of dementia. Specifically, it would emphasize the manner in which Alzheimer's and other age-related dementias result in personality changes that can make patients incapable of assisting in their own care (Birren & Schaie, 2006). In principle, by familiarizing caregivers with the universality of various specific manifestations of uncooperativeness, apparent lack of appreciation, and increasing intransigence or belligerence, the program would minimize the incidence of reactive responses to typical symptoms of age-related dementias.
Another important element of an elder abuse prevention program would be familiarizing caregivers with the relatively high incidence of physical abuse suffered by the dependent elderly at the hands of family members. This advanced notice might substantially reduce the chances of frustrations escalating to that point within families. Likewise, initiating a support network among similarly-situated caregivers would likely provide many of the same benefits as generally provided by group counselling environments where individuals can share similar experiences and frustrations.
Finally, another important aspect of an elderly abuse prevention program should probably include information on the nature and mechanisms of psychological repression, particularly in connection with strong emotions such as anger (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2008). In that regard, lessons should include the magnification effect of latent expression of anger or emotional resentment that is allowed to build up through the natural tendency of many people to…[continue]
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