Social Gerontology: A Multidisciplinary Perspective

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  • Edition: 6th
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2002-01-01
  • Publisher: Allyn & Bacon
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This best-selling text on social aging takes a multidisciplinary approach by considering the many factors biological, psychological, historical, cultural that affect the way aging individuals experience the world. The text provides a comprehensive, holistic view of aging that considers the implications for an older person's interactions with their social and physical environments, including the immediate environment of family, friends, and home, as well as the larger social structure of community, organizations, and society. Based on the latest research findings, the text offers greater depth and breadth to the critical issues of aging, attending to differences by age and cohort, gender, ethnic minority status, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.

Table of Contents

Each chapter concludes with “Glossary,” “Resources,” “References,” and “Summary and Implications.”



1. The Growth of Social Gerontology.
Toward Understanding Aging.
The Field of Gerontology.
Social Gerontology.
What Is Aging?
The Older Population Is Diverse.
A Person-Environment Perspective on Social Gerontology.
Organization of the Text.
Why Study Aging?
Growth of the Older Population.
The Oldest-Old.
Dependency Ratios.
Population Trends.
Worldwide Trends.
Impact of Demographic Trends in the United States.
Longevity in Health or Disease?
How Aging and Older Adults Are Studied.
Formal Development of the Field.
Research Methods.

2. Historical and Cross-Cultural Issues in Aging.
Old Age Historically.
The Effects of Modernization.
A Cross-Cultural View of Old Age in Contemporary Societies.
Effects of Culture and Modernization Are Still Changing.


3. The Social Consequences of Physical Aging.
Biological Theories of Aging.
Can Aging Be Reversed or Delayed?
Research on Physiological Changes with Age.
Changes in Sensory Functions.

4. Managing Chronic Diseases and Promoting Well-Being in Old Age.
Defining Health.
Quality of Life in Health and Illness.
Effects of Stress on Health.
Chronic and Acute Diseases.
Causes of Death in Older Adults.
Common Chronic Conditions.
Falls and Their Prevention.
Use of Physician Services by Older People.
Health Promotion with Older People.


5. Cognitive Changes with Aging.
Intelligence and Aging.
Factors That May Influence Intelligence in Adulthood.
The Process of Learning and Memory.
The Information Processing Model.
Factors That Affect Learning in Old Age.
Age-Related Changes in Memory.
Improving Cognitive Abilities in Old Age:
Cognitive Retraining, Memory Mediators.
Wisdom and Creativity.

6. Personality and Mental Health in Old Age.
Defining Personality.
Stage Theories of Personality.
Trait Theories of Personality.
Self-Concept and Self-Esteem.
Stress, Coping, and Adaptation.
Successful Aging.
Mental Disorders among Older Persons.
Older Adults Who Are Chronically Mentally Ill.
Psychotherapy with Older Persons.

7. Love, Intimacy, and Sexuality in Old Age.
Attitudes and Beliefs about Sexuality in Later Life.
Myths and Reality about Physiological Changes and Frequency of Sexual Activity.
Women and Age-Related Physiological Changes.
Men and Age-Related Physiological Changes.
Disease and Sexual Activity.
Gay and Lesbian Partners in Old Age.
Psychosocial Factors and Late-Life Affection, Love, and Intimacy.
Facilitating Older Adults' Sexual Functioning.


8. Social Theories of Aging.
The Importance of Social Theories of Aging.
Social Gerontological Theory before 1961: Role and Activity.
The First Transformation of Theory.
Alternative Theoretical Perspectives.
Recent Developments in Social Gerontological Theory: The Second Transformation.

9. The Importance of Social Supports: Family, Friends, and Neighbors.
The Nature and Function of Informal Supports.
The Changing Concept of the Aging Family.
Older Couples.
Sibling Relationships.
Never-Married Older People.
Childless Older Adults.
Other Kin.
Intergenerational Relationships: Adult Children.
The Stresses of Caregiving.
Elder Abuse.
Institutionalization: A Painful Decision for Family Members.
Legal and Policy Questions Regarding Caregiving.
Grandparenthood and Great-Grandparenthood.
The Effects of Divorce.
Friends and Neighbors as Social Supports.
Interventions to Strengthen or Build Social Supports.
Relationships with Pets.

10. Living Arrangements and Social Interactions.
Person-Environment Theories of Aging.
Geographic Distribution of the Older Population.
The Impact of the Neighborhood.
Victimization and Fear of Crime.
Housing Patterns of Older People.
Long Term Care Nursing Homes.
Assisted Living, Adult Foster Care, Adult Family Homes.
Services to Aid Older People in the Community.
Technology to Help Older Persons Remain Independent.
Housing Policy and Government Programs.
SRO Housing.
The Problems of Homelessness.

11. Productive Aging: Paid and Nonpaid Roles and Activities.
Employment Status.
Economic Status: Sources of Income in Retirement.
Poverty among Old and Young.
Patterns and Functions of Nonpaid Roles and Activities.

12. Death, Dying, Bereavement, and Widowhood.
The Changing Context of Dying.
The Dying Process.
Care of the Dying.
The Right to Die.
Legal Options Regarding End-of-Life Care.
Bereavement, Grief, and Mourning Rituals.

13. The Resiliency of Elders of Color.
Defining Ethnicity.
Research History.
Older African Americans.
Older Hispanic Americans.
Older American Indians.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Implications for Services.

14. The Resiliency of Older Women.
Rationale for a Focus on Older Women's Needs.
Older Women's Health Status.
Older Women's Social Status.
Future Directions.


15. Social Policies to Address Social Problems.
Variations among Policies and Programs.
Factors Affecting the Development of Policies.
The Development of Policies for Older People.
Income Security Programs: Social Security and Supplemental Security Income.
Private Pensions and Income Tax Provisions.
Social Services.
Policy Dilemmas.
Who Is Responsible?

16. Health and Long-Term Care Policy and Programs.
Health and Long-Term Care Expenditures.
The Crisis in Medicare.
Social Services Block Grants and the Older Americans Act.
Private Insurance.
Health and Long-Term Care Reforms.



Health Status.

Health Care Delivery in the Future.

Changing Family Relationships.

New Definitions of Work and Productivity.

Changes in Living Arrangements.

Ethical Dilemmas.

Careers in Gerontology.



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