Assignment: Sociocultural Differences in Perspectives on Aging

Assignment: Sociocultural Differences in Perspectives on Aging

Assignment: Sociocultural Differences in Perspectives on Aging

In Sociocultural Differences in Perspectives on Aging assignment, respond to at least two colleagues who addressed cultures that are different from the ones you addressed.

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  • Share an insight from reading your colleagues’ postings
  •  Describe how you might incorporate the cultural perspectives on aging described by your colleagues into your own social work practice.

 Be sure to support your Sociocultural Differences in Perspectives on Aging responses with specific references to the resources. If you are using additional articles, be sure to provide full APA-formatted citations for your references.


Sociocultural Differences in Perspectives on Aging: Colleague 1: BM

Americans are living far longer than they have in the past, with the average age of death at approximately 77 years of age (Ryman, 2003).  This increase in years can possibly be attributed  to our advanced medical findings, ranging from research to cure, which have resulted in prolonging the lives of individuals who otherwise may not have lived as long.  With our citizens living longer, amenities for these individuals have also been revamped, including senior housing facilities and additional units included in nursing homes.  Furthermore, it is an unfortunate reality that the elderly population in our society is often considered as a burden (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2016).  This can typically be heard when people refer to driving behind a senior citizen or shopping in the same stores.  Their habitually slower pace does not always align with our quick-paced, instantly-gratifying society, typical in the United States.  The mental and physical health of the elderly can also have an effect on society, with financial resources being allocated for this population, thus further prolonging their lives (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2016).

In countries including Japan and China, however, the elderly are viewed with a much higher prestige than here in the United States.  Their role within their families, particularly as they age, becomes more ingrained, with the majority of the elderly living with their grown children and their children (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2016).  This becomes the expectation.  In these cultures, the elderly are viewed as wise, possessing a knowledge that can only be obtained with years spent on the planet.  On the contrary if grown children consider a nursing home for their parents, they are actually considered uncaring and non-traditional (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2016).  Additionally, the Indian culture reveres their elderly population, again often living in joint families.  The patriarch in these families is often the grandfather or great grandfather.  It is customary for the grandparents to have a direct hand in raising the grandchildren, including the child care and decision making regarding the children (Ryman, 2003).

The difference between the United States and the other aforementioned viewpoints on aging can most likely be directly linked to the pace of society.  The United States prides itself on technology, economics and the resulting power.  While these are certainly aspects that have crafted America into the country it is today, some may argue that sense of family and the importance of forged relationships have been lost.  This would coincide with the different views our country holds on aging.  Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman (2016) referenced our elderly population as being a burden on society, simply because they cannot maintain the rigor of today’s world.  This is in sharp contrast to other cultures in which the elderly population is revered for their wisdom of experience.  This difference in viewpoint will certainly impact upon social work practice.  It would be essential for the professional to understand the cultural elements that come into play when dealing with the elderly.  A Chinese grandmother, for example, may have a very different story to share than an American grandmother who is being moved to a nursing home.  Cultural competence, yet again, plays such an integral role.

Sociocultural Differences in Perspectives on Aging Colleague 2: Sk

The concept of aging and how various society reacts to it may vary in a number of ways; the American culture views aging differently from the Japanese and Latinos. NCBI (2009) states aging in the U.S. occurs against the backdrop of cultural ideologies such as the Protestant work ethic and the American Dream, which define personal worth in terms of active engagement in work, individual achievement, and responsibility for control over one’s own actions. This perspective looks at the American culture as one that looks at the worth of a person in regards to their age and how they function as they age. Aging has more benign meanings in Japan than the U.S. Japanese conceptions of aging are rooted in Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist philosophical traditions that characterize aging as maturity; old age is thus understood as a socially valuable part of life, even a time of “spring” or “rebirth” after a busy period of working and raising children. The Japanese culture sees their elderly as a wealth of knowledge because they have gained so much experience which shows they do not look at what they have to contribute physically. Latinos are another group that their culture embraces their elderly and so they seek to make them an active part of their society because of the insights they have that is cruicial to the upbringing of the younger generations. In Latino cultures the elderly are believed to have inner strength. The elderly also consider themselves to be important members of the family and not ashamed to ask for help; Latino elderly continue to occupy a central role in the family and are treated with respect, status), and authority (MHAGING 2016).

Assignment: Sociocultural Differences in Perspectives on Aging

These differences exist simply because of how these society view there elderly, industrialization, and how individuals can contribute to the advancement of their society. Zastrow, & Kirst-Ashman, (2016) states our society fears aging more than other societies do; industrialization resulted in a demand for laborers who are energetic, agile, and strong. With this industrialization more modern societies like the United States would embrace this change because it propels them on the economic ladder which is not possible with elderly working so they are better suited in settings that are far less demanding which unfortunately makes them redundant. Whereas Japanese and Latinos have advanced with the time they have not lost the concept that their elderly are valuable so they keep them as their wealth of knowledge instead of looking at them as not being valuable to their society anymore. Different perspectives on aging might impact social work practice significantly because the service the social workers will advocate for will be highly dependent on how these cultures view the need of help. In the Japanese and Latinos culture it is more likely for them to rely on their family for help and support in taking care of them when they are older so they will deem the social work agencies as interfering. This will affect the way they communicate with the social worker so it all comes down to the social worker being culturally competent which will allow them to be very empathetic and sensitive to these individuals in order to develop a good relationship. Elders in the American culture may not be as sensitive to working with the social workers because they are more cases of elderly living alone and without families so they need the help of social services. Suffice it to say that social worker have to be competent in any culture that they work with in order to advocate for services that will empower them in their later years.

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