Introduction to Gerontology
Mid-Term Study Questions
- What is gerontology? What do gerontologists study? What
does it mean to describe gerontology as multi-disciplinary?
- When does old age begin? Discuss the various ways age can
be defined and measured?
- When and why did gerontology emerge as a field of study?
What were some of the factors that lead to its emergence?
- Discuss the activity theory versus disengagement theory
debate? Has it been resolved? What was the significance of this debate
- Distinguish between age differences and age changes? How
do these relate to age, period, and cohort effects? Methodologically, how
can social gerontologists distinguish between these various effects?
- What is longitudinal research? How does it differ from
cross-sectional research? Why is it particularly important in social
gerontology? Discuss the different types of longitudinal research.
- Discuss the following as they relate to research with the
aged: (a) physical and cognitive limitations, (b) captive, dependent, and
vulnerable groups; and (c) the need for diversity.
- Why study aging and the elderly?
- Who is responsible for meeting the needs of America’s elderly? How have politicians and policy makers varied in their answers to this
question? Where do you stand on the question?
- Briefly discuss the history of aging from pre-historic
times to the modern era, emphasizing the dualistic view of aging and old
age that has permeated most of history. What was the impact of
modernization on aging and the elderly?
- How has the status and prestige of the elderly in America changed since the colonial period? What factors account for these changes?
- What is ageism, where do ageist beliefs and stereotypes
come from? What is the role of cultural values, economics, power, and the
mass media in creating and sustaining such beliefs? Do you think these
beliefs and stereotypes are likely to change in the future? Why or why
- What are some common negative stereotypes of the aged?
What are some positive stereotypes? What is a "compassionate”
stereotype? Are compassionate stereotypes negative or positive? What are
some of the consequences of stereotyping the elderly?
- Discuss the statement that the elderly are a diverse
group. Describe some of this diversity. How does this diversity impact
how people experience aging and old age? What does it say about age-based
- What is double, triple, and quadruple jeopardy? What is
meant by cumulative disadvantage?
- What is meant by the "Graying of America?" Be
sure to address both historical patterns and future predictions. What
accounts for these patterns? What are some of their implications?
- In which states do the most elderly live? Which states
have the highest proportion of elderly? Which states are experiencing the
greatest growth in the elderly population? Explain each of these patterns.
- What is the general pattern in terms of aging world wide?
What countries have the most elderly? What countries have the highest
proportions of their populations over 65? What countries are experiencing
the greatest growth? Explain these patterns.
- What are some of the mental and physical changes
associated with aging and old age? Are these changes inevitable in old
age? Why or why not? What causes these changes?
- What are ADLs and IADLs? How do they relate to the mental
and physical changes associated with aging and old age?
- How would describe the health of the older population?
What are the most common health problems (morbidity) and causes of death
(mortality) among the elderly? What are the most prevalent mental,
emotional, and cognitive problems in old age? How do the elderly differ
from younger age groups in terms of morbidity, mortality, and mental
health? Given these differences, how do the health care needs of the elderly
differ from those of younger age groups?
- What are some of the social factors that affect the
physical and mental health of the elderly? Discuss the impact of these
factors. What do the effects of these factors suggest about the notion
that physical and mental declines are inevitable in old age?
- Compare and contrast Medicare and Medicaid, being sure to
address how each program is funded, who qualifies for each, what each
covers, and the role each plays in paying for the health care needs of the
elderly. Pay particular attention to role played by each in paying for
long-term care. What changes, if any, do you see for these two programs
over the next 30 years? What changes would you like to see? How would you
respond to a friend that states, "When I get old I won't have to
worry about paying for health care. I'll have Medicare."
- Discuss the following as they relate to each other and to
long-term more generally: (1) increased regulation and monitoring of
quality of care in nursing homes; (2) changes in how Medicare pays
hospitals and nursing homes for the care they provide; (3) changes in the
composition of nursing home populations; (4) changes in the level of care
provided by nursing homes; and (5) the recent bankruptcy of some large
nursing home chains.
- What is the future of long-term care in America? How will we as a country pay for growing long-term care needs? How do we balance
quantity of life, quality of life, and the increasing costs of health
care? Will health care need to be restricted or rationed in some way? Is
so how? If not, how will it be paid for? What do you see as the role of
traditional nursing homes in the future? What alternatives to the nursing
home are emerging and what role will they play in the future?