This article was writted exclusively for our Split Rock Rehab readers, by our friend, Melisa Marzett who also writes articles for www.findwritingservice.com, an academic website.
The aging process is long, starting with a gradual decrease in the functional capabilities of the human body. There are three stages of this period, which are elderly age – 60-74 years, old age – 75-89 years and longevity – 90 years and older.
With age, there is a loss of psychological flexibility and adaptability, a desire for stability and reliability replaces interest in the new, unknown. Awareness of the inevitability of aging, coupled with the loss of social status, physical limitations, and mental changes, leads older people to narrow their social circle, create a feeling of inferiority and unnecessary, and sometimes severe depressive states.
Psychological portrait of an elderly person:
Studies and everyday practice show that there are some characteristic features of the lifestyle, behavior of an older person:
- Self-isolation from the social environment as a result of a loss of social fullness of life, limitation of the quantity and quality of relations with society;
- Loneliness in old age is a loss of friends and relatives, and old friends pass away, children begin to live their own lives, often separately from older parents. An older adult is deprived of the possibility of communication, adequate assistance, constant movement, and action;
- A decrease in vital interest arises as a result of a lack of social contacts, indifference to oneself and the world around;
- Psychological protection, shackling the mind, feelings, life activity, allows a person typically to find temporary peace of mind, however, in old age it can be harmful, as it leads to the desire to avoid new information, other life circumstances other than prevailing stereotypes;
- Caution, thrift, thriftiness as a result of a peculiar sense of time. An older person always lives in the present, his past, memories, as well as the future, is still with him, in the present. These or other actions are planned; an older adult prepares for them morally;
- The inability to perceive the new is because older people are trying to create from their youth something like a lost paradise, experiencing and regretting it; concentrating on the past, they do not notice the present, thereby losing the future, ceasing to develop as a person;
- Ratability, moodiness, grumpiness, greed, etc. those negative character traits that disguised in youth manifest themselves distinctly in old age;
- Anxiety and suspiciousness arise due to insecurity in one’s strengths;
- Negative emotions and depressive states result from excessive immersion in the disease.
However, you should not build a psychological portrait of the elderly only because of the negative characteristics of the psychological aspects of the elderly. Studies of domestic and foreign scientists testify to the variety of manifestations of a positive attitude of an older person to life and society.
We can distinguish the following successful socio-psychological types of old age:
The first type is active, creative old age, when older people, retiring on a well-deserved rest, continue to participate in public life, in educating young people, in rendering all possible assistance to those in need – they live a full life without experiencing any inferiority.
The second type is characterized by the fact that the elderly begin to do things for which they did not have time before: self-education, relaxation, entertainment, etc., this elderly is characterized by good social and psychological adaptability, flexibility, adaptation, but their energy is aimed only at themselves.
The third type is found mainly among women. They see the main application of their forces in the family; they have no time to be miserable, bored. However, as psychologists note, life satisfaction in this group of people is lower than in the first two groups.
The fourth type is characteristic of people whose sense of life is taking care of their health. Various forms of activity and moral satisfaction are associated with this. However, at the same time, there is a tendency to exaggerate their actual and imaginary diseases, increased anxiety.
Key factors contributing to aging:
- Lack of a bright life rhythm;
- Narrowing the social circuits;
- Withdrawal from active labor activity;
- The empty nest syndrome;
- Slipping away inside oneself;
- Feeling of loneliness;
- Sense of discomfort from an enclosed space and many other life events and situations.
Many of these factors can be prevented or overcome relatively painlessly by changing attitudes towards the aging process as a whole.
The quality of life of the elderly should contribute to the desire and ability of a person to maintain an active lifestyle and longevity. It is formed both with the participation of the state and of the person oneself:
- Decent pension;
- Housing conditions must meet the requirements and living conditions of an older person, depending on the degree of loss of self-care;
- Accessibility of the environment (public, transport infrastructure, healthcare, and social protection institutions, etc.);
- Availability of information;
- Protecting the rights of older consumers;
- Accessibility of continuing education;
- Affordable and of a high quality medical and social services;
- Healthy lifestyle (rational nutrition, physical and mental activity, psychological and emotional stability).
Elderly quality of life criteria:
- Satisfaction of needs
- Physical well-being
- Mental well-being
- Social welfare
- Life satisfaction
A sense of well-being or a feeling that “I am doing well” is associated with issues such as:
- The activity
- Family relationships
- Meaning of life
Factors shaping the elderly’s quality of life:
- Feeling “that I’m fine.”
- Meaning of life
- Sense of value
The quality of life of older people largely depends on the ability of others to communicate with them, on the knowledge of the peculiarities of care, as well as on the ability to provide the elderly with psychological support, help to organize outdoor activities, work, and proper nutrition and equip housing in accordance with the needs of the elderly person.
Those who help older people should remember that each person’s life path is unique and that his past activities are worthy of respect. Now helpless and feeble – this man in his youth and maturity loved and was loved, studied and worked, raised children. A person’s awareness of his value for the family, relatives, and society will extend his active life, brighten up old age.