The Elderly

Gap-fill exercise

Fill in all the gaps, then press "Check" to check your answers. Use the "Hint" button to get a free letter if an answer is giving you trouble. You can also click on the "[?]" button to get a clue. Note that you will lose points if you ask for hints or clues!

   ageism      class      classes      Community      cultural      extended      medical      policies      retirement      rising      role      social      status      stereotypes      venerated      women   
Is Old Age a Social Construct?
“Old Age” can be used to describe people across a 40 year age spectrum.
It could be argued that like childhood the experience of old age is a construct i.e. related to historical period, local culture, national culture, social , ethnic group etc.
As sociologists we must certainly question the notion that old age is just a biological state.

The Sociological Study of Old Age is becoming more important
There are three reasons for this:

1. The numbers of elderly people are as life expectancy has risen; nutrition has improved as have care and living standards. As a result nearly 20% of the population is 65+ compared to less than 15% in 1995 and less than 5% in 1850.

2. There are differences in how Old Age is experienced
In traditional societies old age is often . In modern societies however the opposite is true and old people are frequently excluded from large areas of social life such as work through enforced . This frequently comes with a loss of and decline in living standards.
Modern society frequently creates negative of what it is to be old - this is called

Mr Walker and friend

3. Poverty
Nearly 50% of those people claiming benefits in the UK are elderly. The costs of the State looking after the elderly has resulted in some social aimed at getting families to take more responsibility for their older members. care initiatives such as this tend to affect the poorest social the most as they cannot afford private care for their older relatives and could lead to a growth in the numbers of working class families. The burden within families for caring for the elderly is most likely to fall on which may limit their opportunities in employment and reinforce patriarchical assumptions about their traditional .

Discussion points
1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of making people retire at 60 or 65?
2. Are old people negatively stereotyped in the media and in society generally? Can you think of any examples from TV or the media?
3. Why might working class women be disadvantaged by social policies designed to reduce the elderly's dependence on the state?