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Health Aspects of Aging, Essay Example

Pages: 10

Words: 2630

Essay

a) The last three decades have seen a rapid increase of older adults in the global population. Both national and international authorities have voiced concerns about this phenomenon. In essence, a larger geriatric population translates into a smaller workforce, thereby contributing to the economic burden on the state. Healthcare costs associated with end-of-life care can become very costly within a short period of time. However, despite the aforementioned concerns, recent discoveries indicate that the aging process does not have to be so discouraging. For instance, Haber (2010) found that although the senior population grows annually, so too does an average individual’s life expectancy. In other words, people today grow to be older than people did 50 years ago, which means that illnesses and circumstances which resulted in death 50 years ago, are less relevant today. The first health trend defies the ideas of ageism. Today’s senior population are more active, life fuller lives, and are less prone to contract physical and emotional illnesses; thereby negating popular ageist beliefs. The ageism principles underline the specificity of abilities, physical and psychological potential, ability to work, create a family, etc. for every age. Ageists believe that when people grow older, they become unable to conduct physical exercises, and are unable to work actively after retirement. However, the aging concept itself is very ambiguous; as Haber (2010) noted, the government-protected age starts at 40 for workers, while the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)-eligible age is 50, and the traditional retirement happens at 65, eligibility for geriatric clinics can be received at 75, while the age of 80-85 years old is considered the demographically significant age. Moreover, admitting that the baby boomers now pose the excessive burden on the countries’ healthcare system means to defy the tension on the hospital capacity for childbirth at the time when they were born, or the strain on the education system capacity at the time they went to schools and colleges. The modern strain on the healthcare resources is the natural outcome of the socio-demographic changes in the states, but not the ageist perspective that dictates that all elderly people are necessarily ill, and constantly require a wide range of costly medical services. As for the second health trend, it supports the ideas of aging by showing that women’s health condition deteriorates by the age of 65, and that women require specific health care due to their chronic health conditions. Women tend to marry men older than them, and men have a lower life expectancy; hence, a major part of women older than 65 (43%) live alone and require specialized medical help (Robinson, 2007). In 2005, 21 million of women aged 65 and older were recorded in the USA; the five leading causes of death for women include the heart diseases, cancer, stroke, CRLD, and Alzheimer’s disease. All diseases require long-term comprehensive care, and pose certain restrictions on women’s mobility and quality of life at the older age (Robinson, 207). Hence, the ageist theory regarding women in this context is supported.

b) The anti-aging perspective proposes that people live an active life and look youthful for as long as possible. To achieve such an effect, the wide array of cosmetic procedures, weight loss, hair management, plastic surgery, Botox injections, etc. are utilized. The perspective of anti-aging groups is clearly directed at persuading people that the aging processes are imposed by the medical field, and that people can reverse the aging process and direct it any way they choose. Anti-aging groups use various health trends to illustrate the anti-aging principles’ benefit. For instance, taking the first discussed health trend, the increase of the older population worldwide, can be effectively used by anti-aging groups to market their products and justify their anti-aging claims. The growing percentage of people older than 65 indicates that people have learned to mitigate the negative processes associated with aging, such as weight gain, by means of healthy eating, active exercise, or plastic surgery. A healthy musculoskeletal system allows older people to live an active lifestyle. The central argument supporting the claims of anti-aging groups is focused on women’s desire to retain a young appearance. As such, great emphasis is placed on cosmetic products and procedures designed to keep women young. Due to different habits, men are likelier to die earlier than women. This is true because research indicates that men smoke, drink, and stress more than women. Women are more likely to diet and exercise, and are therefore more likely to join anti-aging groups than men.

c) Aging is not a homogeneous process, and there are various criteria according to which aging can be approached. As such, men and women age in different ways. In addition, men and women from different ethnic groups also age differently. Hence, diversity in aging can be approached from the perspectives of gender, race and ethnicity, and even sexual orientation, religion, and other criteria. One of the aging diversity trends is that of race and ethnicity. Scharlach, Fuller, & Kramer (2002) noted that the U.S. population is aging at a rapid pace. In fact, the number of seniors in America outnumbers the entire Canadian population. However, minorities, such as Hispanics and African Americans make up the largest segments of the American senior population. In addition, minorities tend to grow older than their Caucasian counterparts. By contrast, Scharlach et al. (2002) found that Native Americans seniors experience a number of physical, psychological, and social changes at a much younger age than non-Indians do. For instance, Native Americans who live on reservations experience age-related problems of a 65-year-old American at the age of 45. Heart disease is the leading cause of mortality among the older Native Americans and they also experience a higher prevalence of Diabetes. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among African Americans. The Asian American population is reported to have much lower mortality rate than Caucasians. Low sodium intake and more active lifestyles are attributed to this fact (Scharlach et al., 2002).

a) The modern healthcare system is designed to address prevention, rather than intervention. As such, prevention procedures have come to the forefront of public health policies, and some screening and assessment procedures such as blood pressure screening have become the necessary requirement for healthcare establishments catering for the older people (Saxon et al., 2009). However, the mandatory blood pressure screenings for all residents of an assisted-living setting (ALS) may be an excessive measure of control and assessment of diseases. It is clear that elderly people living in ALSs have a certain number of diseases and disorder preconditioned by their age and the history of their nutrition, lifestyle, and medical records. Taking into account the sensitivity and specificity of the blood pressure test, some elderly people may misinterpret the results thereof, adding the unnecessary and troubling disease to the list of disorders they already have. Moreover, many people have high blood pressure as their natural quality, while others’ blood pressure may rise not as a result of a medical condition, but as a natural response to physical activity, to medications, etc. Hence, making mandatory blood pressure testing in ALS is unnecessary.

b) Designing a workshop centered on blood pressure screening is a difficult task, since people cannot be forced to participate in these screenings. In fact, a senior citizen’s health can deteriorate simply because they are forced to exhibit certain behaviors. Therefore, mandatory screening issues should be approached with sensitivity and according to theoretical health behavior models. This will ensure positive perceptions and individual willingness not only to take the test, but also to take the necessary action related to its results. One theoretical model of health behavior that can help physicians is the Health Belief Model (HBM) (Redding et al., 2000). This model states that taking action in health-related issues usually depends on the perceptions of the patients regarding their own vulnerability for the assumed condition, the perceived seriousness of this condition’s consequences, the precautionary action required for the prevention of that action, and the relation of the threat-reduction benefits to the costs of taking that action (Redding et al., 2000). Thus, the patients may involve in the hypertension prevention actions (in case their blood pressure screening results indicate the threat of that disorder in the near future) if they feel the susceptibility, severity, effectiveness, and cost. Another theoretical model of health behavior is the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) (Redding et al., 2000). This theory proposes that the intention to perform a certain action predetermines the actual performance of that action. Hence, people can be urged to make certain decisions, and then embody them into actions, by means of affecting their attitudes and values. In case they believe that eating fat food is bad for their cholesterol level, and is likely to cause problems with their heart, if they feel that their spouses disapprove of their dietary decisions, they are more likely to reduce the number of fatty food consumed.

a) Aging is almost always accepted met pessimism. However, not all elderly people exhibit pessimistic behaviors. Those who are happy are typically positively influenced by the social comparison and paradox of health and health status. The concept of social comparison is an automatic, subliminal response that takes place in the human mind without pronounced awareness of the individual. According to the principle of social comparison, people do not have the objective vision of themselves, and they usually perceive their attributes as compared to those of other people they see and know. Another phenomenon distinguishing the contentment and positive perceptions of elderly people is that of a paradox between health and health status. Barsky (1988) proved that there is a pronounced discrepancy between the objective and subjective state of health, since the society has become much more conscious about health, nutrition, medical screening, regular exercise, and bad habits, which has led to “greater self-scrutiny and an amplified awareness of bodily symptoms and feelings of illness” (p. 414). Moreover, some other factors include the advancement of medical care has led to the decrease of the mortality rate from acute infectious diseases, while has also contributed to the increasing prevalence of chronic and degenerative disorders – people tend to be less pessimistic about such type of disorders mainly because of the unpronounced and non-acute form of such diseases’ flow that causes little inconvenience and physical pain, thus improving the self-perception of patients.

b) Working in an assisted living facility (ALF) is not always a desirable job for the direct care workers (DCWs), since the job usually low-paid, and is also considered unrewarding and emotionally draining. Hence, ball et al., (2009) found that DCW is usually associated with non-white population, as noted in the article of Ball et al. (2009). However, the authors also found an improved level of job satisfaction if the DCW develops strong emotional bonds with their patients.

a) The musculoskeletal system is one of the most essential systems in the human body because it regulates proper body movements and protects and supports all soft body organs (Saxon et al., 2009). It is therefore crucial to maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system. However, aging alters the functionality of the musculoskeletal system. Calcium is what makes the human skeleton stronger, and even in cases of fractures, bones with the sufficient amount of calcium restore quicker than those of older people. As Saxon et al. (2009) noted the bone mass peaks at the age of 35, after which it begins to slowly deteriorate. The loss of calcium and other minerals is attributed not only to aging, but to bad habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Cartilage change is another factor of age-related changes to the skeletal system. With age, cartilage surfaces get rougher, and the joint areas receive greater stress, causing the loss of flexibility, restriction of joint movement, etc. consequently, body flexibility also reduces. The result of the age-related changes in the musculoskeletal system bring about such disorders as osteoporosis, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, etc. (Saxon et al., 2009).

b) According to Saxon et al. (2009), the wear and tear theory is one of the earliest attempts to explicate the natural changes occurring in the human organism during the aging process. The key paradigm of this theory is that with age, the human organism is worn out and becomes defective because of the prolonged use. The aggravation of the organism’s state is caused by the accumulation of by-products of metabolism. However, the major drawback of this theory is that it neglects the key restoration mechanisms acting in the human body, and the positive effect of training and prolonged use, as in the case of, for instance, muscles (Saxon et al., 2009). Research indicates that regular training of muscles results in their strengthening and retention of good physical condition. However, the human skeleton changes over time due to the wear and tear forces. In case the human skeleton is compared to a machine, it is obvious that any mechanism, like for instance an automobile, has some moving parts the quality and shape of which deteriorate in the process of movement and as a result of friction. Comparing the mechanism of the human movement to the movement of a car, one can note that the slipper brakes an the bearings have to be replaced from time to time exactly due to the destructive effect of friction on their shape and ability to fulfill their functions. When the proper amount of oil is supplied to the system to ease the movement of parts, the wear and tear in a car occurs more slowly; oil creates the layer diminishing friction, which protects the moving parts from destruction. Similarly to that process, the fluid in the human joints protects the bones from wear and tear, but in case there is a lesser amount of fluid, friction intensifies, which causes bone deformation. In the cars, even in case the sufficient amount of oil is supplied into the system, the wear and tear still takes place over time, though much more slowly. Hence, the human organism can be compared in this context to a car – in a healthy organism, wear and tear occurs in the natural way, but in the organisms with some disorders in the musculoskeletal system, the process of wear and tear can occur quicker than it does in average aging people. Hence, despite the fact that the problems of the musculoskeletal system may occur regardless of age (for instance, even young people can have such problems as ostheochondrosis because of the irregular posture), the normal flow of the human life without any distinctive disorders in this system still presupposes the deterioration of the skeletal system with age due to the logical wear and tear processes, especially in the moving parts of the skeleton.

References

About A4M (2012). World Health. Retrieved from http://www.worldhealth.net/about-a4m/

Ball, M. M., Lepore, M. L., Perkins, M., Hollingsworth, C., & Sweatman, M. (2009). “They are the reason I come to work”: The meaning of resident-staff relationships in assisted living. Journal of Aging Studies, 23(1), pp. 37-37.

Barsky, A. J. (1988). The paradox of health. New England Journal of Medicine, 318(7), pp. 414-418.

Chapin, R., Nelson-Becker, H., Gordon, T., & Terrebonne, S. (2002). Aging and Ethnicity. Retrieved from http://www.oaltc.ku.edu/gerorich/Reports/AGINGANDETHNICITY.pdf

Haber, D. (2010). Health Promotion and Aging: Practical Applications for Health Professionals. (5th ed.). Danvers, MA: Springer Publishing Company.

Redding, C. A., Rossi, J. S., Rossi, S. R., Velicer, W. F., and Prochaska, J. O. (2000). Health Behavior Models. The International Electronic Journal of Health Education, 3, pp. 180-193.

Robinson, K. (2007). Trends in Health Status and Health Care Use among Older Women. CDC: US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ahcd/agingtrends/07olderwomen.pdf

Saxon, S. V., Etten, M. J., & Perkins, E. A. (2009). Physical Change and Aging: A Guide for the Helping Professions. (5th ed.). Danvers, MA: Springer Publishing Company.

Social comparison happens subliminally, and automatically (2004). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/nov04/comparison.aspx

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