People above the age of 60 are considered elderly, and are frequently referred to as “senior citizens.” Almost every country in the globe has seen an increase in life expectancy. Individuals are living longer lives. As a result, there are more elderly persons in the population. In addition, the birth rate is declining. Population ageing refers to the trend of greater life expectancy and decreasing mortality, as well as a decline in birth rate.
Previously, life was divided into four stages: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. With greater lifespan, various phases may now be detected even in old age. The first difficulty raised by an ageing population is the reliance that elderly individuals may have on the state for their welfare and financial aid. Governments are also concerned about providing health care and long-term care for a significant number of elderly people; whether families can bear the responsibility of caring for their elderly relatives is another challenge. These are minor concerns. At the micro level, the issues include how individuals will adapt to ageing and changing environments, as well as how they will compensate for age-related losses in the physical, economic, social, and psychological domains. The fact that the Indian government established a national policy for elderly persons demonstrated the gravity of the situation.
Aging is a natural part of life. From birth to death, life is not a straight path. The first half of life is dominated by growth and expansion. Slow decrease becomes obvious in the second half. Physical appearance changes and sensory acuity deteriorates. The rate of response and reaction time is gradually slowing. Social roles shift as well. For example, one may have become a grandmother, a retiree, or a senior citizen. On the plus side, there is greater maturity, knowledge, compassion, patience, and spiritual growth potential. Normal ageing does not result in a severe reduction in intelligence or adaptability.
Understanding the appearance of normal ageing processes vs illness processes has crucial implications for the identification and intervention of the elderly population. There is a belief that as we become older, our central nervous system processing slows down. This has a detrimental impact on cognitive speed, or the rate at which mental tasks is completed. As a result, a number of cognitive skills deteriorate. The slowdown is more noticeable in performance, but verbal abilities are somewhat better. Processing speed is most sensitive to ageing, especially after the seventh decade. The extent of decrease noticed is determined by education, profession, and previous level of functioning. The most prevalent problem and worry among the elderly is memory loss. Normal memory loss is frequently referred to in clinical terms as benign senescent forgetfulness. Nowadays, the phrase “age-related memory impairment” is used.
Aging is not a consistent process. Some persons may have significant alterations in the functioning of their bodies’ digestive, excretory, pulmonary, and other systems. Some persons are more severely affected by age-related disease than others. Though ageing is a degrading process, some people age quicker than others. The term’senility’ is frequently used to describe the abnormal loss of cognitive capabilities in old age. Dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s dementia, is age-related. Chronic diseases, falls, and cognitive loss are examples of psychosocial events such as widowhood, grief, loneliness, and depression, as well as how poor life satisfaction causes disruption in old age.
The aged are more vulnerable to mental problems as a result of biochemical and morphological changes in the ageing brain. It is also attributed to lowered immunity and bad living circumstances. Those who exhibit mental symptoms in their later years are reported to have a significant level of physical morbidity and impairment. Poor vision, hearing, and mobility all have an impact on social contact. It leads to mental issues when paired with chronic disease and loss of status. Heredity, constitutional variables, life events, and personality may all contribute to morbidity in old age. Depressive disorders are among the most frequent mental health issues that people face as they become older. Suicidal ideation is also common among older depressed patients.
Stress, grief, loss, gender, poor socioeconomic level, and family history are all risk factors for depression. Physical ailments worsen anxiety disorders. The physical consequences of alcohol on the elderly make alcohol usage much more of a public health problem than it is in younger people. It takes a lot of use to have a negative impact on elderly people. Delusional disorder manifests itself in middle or late adulthood. Concerns are raised by psychological issues.
Middle Life Issues:
Chronological age is only a guideline. What one ethnic or socioeconomic group considers to be middle age may be considered old age by another. A forty-year-old man may be suffering from illnesses that cause his bodily organs to resemble those of an eighty-year-old. Counseling older folks must take into account midlife issues. Every society has age-grading systems in place to justify the passage of time. It is a method of breaking a person’s life into socially significant units and converting biological time into social space. According to this criterion, middle age is an essential period in the human life cycle. It marks the halfway point in one’s life. There is no obvious demarcation between middle age and old age. However, certain incidents that occur between the ages of forty and sixty are termed midlife difficulties. The way people adjust to these experiences has a big impact on how they deal with ageing in the future.
Middle age is frequently seen as a watershed moment in one’s life. Around this period, most people become conscious of their age and mortality. Physical changes become apparent, ageing parents become ill or die, and children grow up and become self-sufficient. Suddenly, the individual becomes conscious of the finiteness of time—the notion that time is running out. One begins to conceive about life in terms of “time remaining to live” rather than “time since birth.” The notion of being ‘aged’ is not appealing, therefore the future appears grim.
Some Western philosophers even theorised that, like adolescence, there is a midolescence. If adolescence is seen as a time of turmoil and stress, middle age may also be a challenging time. Along with bodily changes, people may have psychological crises. They may feel restless, desire to alter their lifestyle, or believe that they have not accomplished their goals and that there is now very little time left. Above all, there is experience structuring and restructuring—that is, the processing of incoming information in light of experience. There is also a shift in one’s understanding of self, time, and death.
In India, forty to forty-five years of age is considered the start of middle age. In Indian thinking, a human life span of one hundred years is split into four ashramas. Brahmacharya (student life) is the initial stage of life in which one spends time studying and preparing for subsequent obligations. The second stage is Grihastya’s life as a householder. A person marries, bears children, and repays three forms of obligations (rina): debts owed to society, gods, and parents. When youngsters reach the age of puberty and their hair begins to grey, they are intended to join vanaprastha. Going to the forest literally implies going to the woods. It denotes a progressive pullback from worldly concerns and a shift toward greater spiritual and social concerns. When a person is ready, he renounces the world and spends the rest of his or her days realising his or her true self. Forms of obligations (rina): debts owed to society, gods, and parents. When youngsters reach the age of puberty and their hair begins to grey, they are intended to join vanaprastha.
Some of the issues in middle age include
Menopause is a substantial physiological alteration that occurs in middle-aged women. Menopause plainly showed the end of a woman’s reproductive activities. In India, the average age of menopause is approximately 45 years. During the 1970s, there was a lot of media hype about menopause being a perilous time for women. It was thought that losing the capacity to produce children would be a huge blow to a woman’s ego, and she would suffer from sadness as a result. The majority of research have concluded that menopause is a temporary phase of stress. Women may suffer higher stress as a result of hormonal fluctuations, social situations, and other life events. According to Indian research, women welcome menopause as a release from childbearing responsibilities and societal taboos. For Indian women, widowhood is a far more serious catastrophe than menopause. During their time, they experience the appearance of vasomotor symptoms as well as the worsening of pre-existing medical and psychological disorders.
The existence of a male analogue to menopause, known as ‘andropause,’ has sparked significant controversy. Men’s hormonal and physiological changes are more gradual and less dramatic than those of women. Some believe that moderate depression symptoms in men in their fifties are connected to a reduction in biological ability. It is said that even if menstruation does not halt during the climacteric era, males may exhibit symptoms owing to a decline in hormone levels between the ages of 45 and 50. Male menopause can include fatigue, nagging aches, decreased sexual potency, anger, and a slew of other psychological problems. Retirement is sometimes referred to be the masculine midlife crisis. While the presence of male menopause is still debated, it is clear that males do not experience menopause as a single, sudden, and final occurrence as women do.
Empty nest Syndrome
While menopause may not drive women to a counsellor, a significant change in family may. In the 70s , much of psychological literature focused on the depressive reaction a mother may experience to the loss of children. That is when children grow up, become independent and leave home, women were considered to suffer from empty nest syndrome. It was believed that women are so wrapped up in their mothering role that all other roles are side-lined. When children move out and set up independent households. Women have suffered a significant role loss. This may not be true in all cases. However, it is clear that living alone without family assistance is a serious issue for both men and women in their senior years. According to Indian research, many middle-aged women still have a huge full nest rather than an empty nest.
Adjusting to new family patterns in middle life is frequently hampered by a variety of variables. Men and women mature at different rates. Because women’s interests in their early years are mostly focused on the house, their tendency to be family oriented is more firmly established. Furthermore, the father’s function requires significantly less time and energy than the mother’s role. Men can compensate for major changes at home by finding fulfilment in their employment.
Several variables impact middle-age adjustment. People who place a high value on youthful looks make the worst adjustments. Constant resistance to bodily changes leads to increased anxiety. Accepting changes in positions is essential. A person who has only performed a few parts may find it difficult to let go of them and accept new ones. It is necessary to learn to invest in new responsibilities. One must also learn to adapt one’s hobbies and activities to accommodate changes in strength and endurance. Unfavorable views toward approaching old age cause issues as well. Middle age should be viewed as a period for reflection, a time to take a renewed interest in social and communal matters. Middle-aged persons who must care for ageing parents have increased stress. The role reversal of parenting the parent, as well as the possibility of substantial financial responsibilities, may add to the stress. The amount of time and energy spent on caregiving is influenced by previous experiences with the parent, attitudes toward the parent, and the quantity of time and energy spent on caregiving.
People who work in an organisation or institution are expected to retire when they reach the age of 60. Most sectors, businesses, and government organisations need employees to retire. Retirement refers to the act of withdrawing from the active labour force. Most organised industries will have some kind of pension plan in place so that a retired individual may continue to receive financial compensation throughout their lives. Alternatively, a sum of money may be paid to the retiring individual. This is to ensure that a person does not encounter financial hardship as a result of a job loss. This is also a technique of thanking someone for working for an organisation for a long period. Many individuals, of course, never retire. People who live alone, such as agricultural labourers, workers, and housewives, do not have access to such services. nt is sometimes seen as the dividing line between adults and the elderly. Until recently, retirement was a challenge that only a small number of people faced. People are now living for an additional 20 to 30 years after retirement. Women are outnumbering males in the labour force. They will also confront retirement issues. For statistical and governmental purposes, retirement is sometimes seen as the dividing line between adults and the elderly.
Adjustment to retirement is an issue that should be considered well before a person retires. During work life, a person’s day would be crowed with duties and responsibilities. When retirement occurs. Suddenly all the activities come to an end. During work, a person would be holing a position that has status, privileges and perks. The day after retirement, all these would be withdrawn. Also, in the work place, people will have friends, well-wishers and a support group. They will miss this once out of work force. The revenue is reduced more than anything else. Several changes in the family would have occurred by this time. Spouse will be elderly, unwell, or deceased. Children would have grown up and would either be living together or not. The retiree would also be aged and could have developed a number of health issues.
People who retire freely usually adjust better, but it is still necessary to plan ahead of time. If a person’s job has been unpleasant or he or she has health concerns, retiring may provide relief. Individuals who have created significant alternative hobbies or interests may discover that they have plenty of time to pursue them after retirement. One of the most difficult things of retiring is letting go of social relationships at work. As a result, one should make plans for healthy social relationships outside of the workplace. Those that remain in the neighbourhood and have enough money to retain their former way of life typically adjust successfully.
Many retirees are dissatisfied with their lives. Those who have associated themselves with their professional duties are deeply affected by job loss, and they are also forced to face the fact that they are ageing. Or, at the very least, they are considered too elderly to work by society. Many people’s self-esteem may suffer as a result of this. Women, on average, adjust better than males because they are more involved in family and social activities. Many retirees are obliged to look for work shortly after they retire owing to financial constraints.