When thinking about an elderly person, the first thing that would perhaps come to most people’s mind is someone sitting on a rocking chair or in front of a television set. It is a popular belief that the older generation is not capable of doing much and, therefore, it is very difficult to work with them. The paper attempts to analyse the stereotypes associated with aging and various physical and mental issues associated with aging.
The paper is broadly divided into five sections. The first section discusses the stereotypes about aging. The second section talks about the physical issues associated with aging. The third section describes the mental issues. The fourth section highlights the mental health treatment issues. The fifth section concludes the paper.
There is a popular belief that elderly people are not interested in the outside world. They like to be in their own shell and do not want to get involved in close relationships or get intimate with anyone. They hardly have anything to contribute to the society because their mental and physical abilities have declined a great deal. People also feel that elderly people have their ways to do anything and everything and they are willing to change at all. Deterioration of physical and mental health is also a matter of concern for most people. People also tend to believe that old people are not capable of making intelligent decisions because they can’t think properly at this age.
These theories make people believe that working with the aging is a great task to accomplish.
It is a fact that several changes take place in our body systems as we grow older; however, the part that is most prone to diseases in old age is the heart. Some changes in the brain are also reported, such as the loss or shrinkage of nerve cells and as a result, there is a delay in general response levels. However, it is also known that new neurons also grow at later stages of our lives.
In addition, old people may develop certain visual and hearing problems; which can however be treated. Some people also feel loss of taste, which further results in poor nutrition. This further affects the body systems and results in several other diseases. Older people are also likely to fall often because of weak muscles and lack of strength.
Old age may decrease the ability to assimilate and process information from the surrounding environment; however, it affects only some tasks. The Seattle Longitudinal Study found that cognitive functioning in late adulthood is highly variable (Highered.mcgraw-hill.com, 2006). Few people decline in all or most areas, and many people improve in some. (Highered.mcgraw-hill.com, 2006).
The ability to carry out day-to-day tasks might decline in older age; however, interpersonal skills and abilities to handle emotional conflicts remain the same. This is mainly because the capacity of working memory declines with age (Highered.mcgraw-hill.com, 2006). Older people are also prone to forget specific events and recently learnt lessons.
Some neurological changes may also result in functioning of memory in older people; which, however, the brain can take care of (Highered.mcgraw-hill.com, 2006). All in all, older people do not show signs of mental disorder, unless they are suffering from diseases like depression or Alzheimer's disease. Intake of alcohol also affects mental health in old age a great deal.
Mental Health Treatment Issues
Some diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and depression, are quite common in elderly people. These diseases are often not diagnosed at early stages and later these are difficult to cure. This is because our bodies tend to respond slower to drug therapies after a certain age.
Looking at the stereotypes and the physical and mental issues associated with old age, it can be concluded that it is definitely not easy to work with elderly people. One needs a lot of patience and empathy to deal with such people in a working environment.
Highered.mcgraw-hill.com (2006). Physical and Cognitive Development in Late Adulthood. Retrieved from http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0073133809/student_view0/chapter17/