Topics: Old age, Gerontology, Ageing Pages: 6 (2243 words) Published: December 11, 2013

Modern society view’s aging as a form of sickness and the elderly as persons who are closer to dying and death. This is what is often portrayed in our mass and social media. When considering issues of aging sociologists have found that more positive characteristics are often said for persons under sixty five years than for over sixty five years. For instance , growth and development, beauty, good health, happiness are more likely to be listed as characteristics of being under sixty five years, whereas decline health, loneliness undesired physical appearance are likely to be listed for person’s over sixty five years. According to the Centre of Confidence and well being (n.d) reports stereotypes of the elderly as being needy, unhappy, senile, unable to learn new things and less useful than their younger counterparts. The author overview of this paper in conclusion we shall first address the factors that may be responsible for the modern day perception of the elderly, theoretical perspectives on aging, effects of ageism and the changes that society can make to eliminate the negative perceptions of aging. The elders in our society was not always viewed negatively according to gerontologist David Hackett Fisher who noted that literature from the seventeenth and eighteenth century colonial American stressed deference and respect for the elderly. He maintains that the elderly were held in veneration. In European culture the image of the elderly was dominated for a long time by the ambivalent traditions. The elderly was both seen as a wise and dignified as well as the old fool. Literature in pre-industrial France according to Jean-Pierre Gutton, marked by this twofold traditions.

Seventeenth-century poetry on the other hand held a more positive view of the aged. In general the image of the elderly in pre-industrial France was more negative than positive. This changed after 1750 under the influence of Romanticism when the image of the wise old men and women acquired additional significance. The elderly came to symbolize virtue and reason. Different cultures treat the elderly in different ways. Cox (1998) notes research showing an inverse relationship "between the degree of modernization and the status accorded old persons" (Cox, 1998, 1), which means that in the more industrialized nations, the older person has a lower status than is the case in less industrialized nations. This is something we can see all around us as our own culture celebrates youth to the exclusion of the old and has been charged with throwing away older people. Despite industrialization of the Asian society according to Erdman Falmore’s we witness evidence of Falmore's observation that Japan, whose level of industrialization matches American’s own, nevertheless maintains a strong tradition of filial piety and successful integration of elderly citizens into community life. There appears to be a great variation as to the treatment that older adults receive, ranging from extreme reverence and respect to abandonment and deprivation, McTavish (1971) reviewed the methodology and findings of a broad range of studies dealing with perceptions of old age. He states, "Most investigators report findings which support the view that attitudes toward the elderly are most favorable in primitive societies and decrease with increasing modernization to the point of generally negative view in industrialized Western nations" (p. 91). In other words, the more "civilized" the society is, the more likely they are to be ageist and maintain negative attitudes about the aged. For instance men in the Middle East view old age as life's summit (Slater, 1964). Older men are viewed as having attained high status and prestige. In fact, according to Slater, the word "sheik" originally meant "old man". Women's status and power does increase in many cultures following menopause. Okada (1962, cited in Gutmann, 1985) states that the old widow has...

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