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Late Adulthood and Death
Late adulthood can definitely be perceived as the culmination of a lifespan development
process as the lessons derived during those years hold unique marginal equity. They are over and
above some of the more mundane life lessons needed to successfully reach that age level, an
exclusivity, while also being very pure, knowing that the end of life is not far. In that sense they
are devoid of the fear of death and take into account that ultimate, unescapable reality. Therein
lies the core contribution of death in the culmination of a lifespan development process.
Ageism and Stereotypes
Age discrimination or ageism does not get as much attention as do other forms of
discrimination. Most of discrimination is derived out of the set of beliefs and values that are
engendered in society. While ageism could be directed at young people, the effects are more
severe and protracted for the older population. Adultism is discrimination directed at young
people, and a predisposition towards adults, while on the other hand, Jeunism discriminates
against the older set in favor of youth, believing in the attraction and vitality of younger people
(Moody, 2006).
Adultcentrism can be a reason, among others, behind adultism, where the attitude is
egotistically centered on adulthood. Ageism can be on any level: micro, meso or macro. It could
be institutional or sporadic. Age based discrimination is different than a phobia that relates with
the age of a subject, or even aversion to an age group (Bass, 2006).
While there can be both positive and negative stereotypes associated with ageism and in
particular with late adulthood, most of the thoughts and beliefs are negative. These negative
thoughts focus on perceived lack of intellectual capacity, cognitive performance, physical rigor,
as well as many other routines and aspects of daily life. Elders are often relegated to a state of
perceived infancy. Employers frequently assume the belief that older people are slow learners,
they resist technological advancement, difficult to train, less productive, more costly, less
creative, too cautious and weaker.
Health and Wellness
Negative effects of aging cannot be cured per se, nor the process of ageing avoided.
Howeevr the negative effects of aging can be mitigated for a period of time. Health and wellness
comes from reducing the stress on the psyche: physical and mental. Entering into a set routine of
activities and chores will eliminate surprises or newness in daily life, which helps the body
acclimatize better and deal with extraneous issues better.
This routine must include time periods for exercise, both mental and physical, because
left unused those capacities will deteriorate. Exercise enables blood flow which in itself helps
prevent a substantial number of health problems. Exercising also strengthens the muscles and
brings vitality into the body. Release of endorphins enables better moods and connects physical
well being with mental strength. Mental exercises would be activities that engage the process of
thinking. Mind puzzles, social or electronic games and interactive computer programming are
examples of such tasks.
Besides, exercising, the need and benefits associated with a healthy diet cannot be
stressed enough. Proper diet can supplement the effort put forth in exercise. On the other hand, a
harmful diet will only seek to counter the effects of exercise. There is no set component that can
be stressed over and above the others. A diet rich in proteins, carbohydrates, with optimum
measure of saturated fats will still need supplanted with roughage, vitamins and minerals for
adequate provision.
Importance of Social Interaction
Social interaction plays a critical role in the later years of life. While on the one hand, it
may provide solace from the trauma of the effects of aging, as people see that they are not alone,
it serves to supplant lost relationships. As older age sets in, the sphere of relationships changes
drastically. Children may leave to pursue their individual lives โ€“ perhaps far. Close relatives may
perish as years pass and many of those known in the earlier years may not be available. While
death is a reason for this, so is disability or dependence on others, as age progresses. Older
people may not find occasion or energy to get together as much as they used to, or may need
others to take them.
Another aspect is that of pace and comfort level. Older people may often find someone of
their times more in tune with how they think or what they expect. They can share perspectives
and memories, even if not personal in nature. Being able to think alike about an issue helps
foster confidence and self-belief, needed always. Having a social circle is therefore extremely
It must be noted that being social in the sense above is not a mandate to well being in the
later years. People who have always been socially reserved may want to find more solitude in
later years to their comfort. On the other hand, persons who have always been hard workers, may
find that engagement in an activity helps them feel better than spending time with someone else.
The nature of social interaction may differ too: it may or may not involve power dynamics, may
or may not be platonic etc.
Cultural and Personal Attitudes about Death and Dignity
Cultures throughout the world have held a range of attitudes over death and dignity in
late adulthood, traversing through the times. Death has commonly held the element of mystic
though. It has been eulogized and demonized at times, given our virtual and complete lack of
information for what proceeds after death. In this information vacuum, religion and mythology
has persisted for eons. Death is visualized in many cultures as a judgement point at which time
the past deeds would be analyzed and rewards conferred for goodness while punishment doled
for bad deeds. Cultures have used the fear of death to induce ideal conduct in their populations
from time to time. Death also polarizes our thinking away from crass materialism knowing that
at the time of it, no possessions will matter. Death has given a reason for cultures to think of
morality in an at once serious monotone.
Death in its association with senescence has brought authority in some measure to adults
in the later stages of life. Entering a realm beyond the living with a head full of experiences and
supposed wisdom has been a principal reason behind the respect accorded to adults. Most
cultures have high posts of respect for the elders, in return for gaining from their experiences and
living a more fulfilled life. From time to time, we see attitudes perverse to old age, for example
in Shakespeare’s plays in medieval England and in the history of Rome under Caligula, but the
underlying theme is one of perceived wisdom and respect.

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