AS/SOC 2600 Introduction to Gerontology
Final Exam Study Questions

  1. 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?
  2. 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."
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. In your opinion, what theory (or theories) of aging provide(s) the best framework for understanding aging? Explain your choice.
  6. Why is housing an important issue for the elderly? What is the relationship between housing satisfaction and life satisfaction among the elderly? Why do you think this relationship is so strong? What characteristics and features of the elderly make housing issues of particular concern to them? What is meant by "person environment fit" and "age appropriate housing?" Why are they important?
  7. What are some of the housing options available to the elderly in the US? What living arrangements are most common? Which are least common? Explain these patterns. What is meant by the continuum of care? How does it relate to housing options? Do you foresee changes in the living arrangements of the elderly in the future? If so, what are they? If not, why not?
  8. What is meant by aging in place? What are some of the problems presented by aging in place? What is being done to address these problems? What more can be done?
  9. Discuss the migration patterns of the elderly, making sure to address (1) what patterns are most common, (2) what factors motivate the elderly to move, and (3) the difference between voluntary and involuntary migration.
  10. What is age segregation? Is it good or bad for the elderly? Is it good or bad for society at large? Is all age segregation deliberate and intentional? Explain your answers.
  11. What is the family life course? What are some of the typical family life course changes and at approximately what ages do they occur. Would you typify the family life course changes experienced by the elderly as negative or positive?
  12. What is meant by "overlapping" family life courses? Why is it important that gerontologists recognize that family life courses overlap? What are some of the consequences of overlapping family life courses? In particular, what do the notions of the "sandwich generation" and "women in the middle" have to do with overlapping family life courses?
  13. Discuss the marital status of the elderly as a group. What is the impact of age and gender on marital status? What is the relationship between age, length of marriage, and marital satisfaction? Be sure to discuss the impact of children, work, and retirement. How do couples tend to change in later life? Are these changes good or bad? Explain.
  14. People often assume that adult children have abandoned their aging parents. On what grounds is the assumption based? What does recent research have to say about the relationship between adult children and their aging parents? Be sure to discuss frequency of contact, quality of relationships, filial affection and attachment, filial obligation and responsibility, and the transfer of goods and services across generations.
  15. How much contact do grandparents and grandchildren have in America? How would you characterize grandparent/grandchild relationships and the quality of their interactions? What are some of the major determinants of the amount of contact and the kind of relationships grandparents have with their grandchildren? Discuss some of the different types of grandparent/grandchild relationships identified by researchers.
  16. How important are sibling relationships in old age? Do they tend to become more or less important with age? Explain? How would you characterize the relationship between older siblings? What are some of the major determinants of contact and relationship quality among older siblings?
  17. Discuss family care giving in America. Include a discussion of (1) the typical patterns of family care giving (i.e., who tends to provide care and what kinds of care); (2) the amount and extent of care provided by families; and (3) the costs and consequences of family care giving for both the provider and the recipient.
  18. How does the role of religion in the lives of individuals change as we age? Are older people more religious than younger people? Do people get more religious as they age? How can age differences in religiosity be explained?
  19. What are some of the functions of religion at both the societal and individual level? Does religion have benefits for aging individuals? Explain.
  20. How do older people tend to see themselves? Do they see themselves as old? Do they see themselves as being different from who or what they were when they were younger? How might you explain these patterns? What processes are involved in the maintenance of a positive self image in old age?
  21. Are the elderly more or less likely to be victims of a violent crime than younger age groups? To what types of crimes are the elderly most susceptible? What, if anything, can be done to reduce the elderly's susceptibility to such crimes? What, if anything, can be done to reduce the elderly's fear of crime?
  22. Should the public be alarmed about recent increases in the number of elder abuse cases? Why or why not? What factors have contributed to the increase? What can be done to reduce the occurrence of elder abuse?
  23. What is the economic status of the elderly population? How do they compare to younger age groups? Be sure to consider income, wealth, home ownership, and poverty rates in your answers. Also be sure to address the impact of age, race, and gender.
  24. What are the main sources of income for the elderly? How have these sources changed over the last 40-50 years? How are they likely to change in future? Do you think the elderly will be better or worse off financially in the future? Explain your answer.
  25. Discuss some of the cultural and historical forces that have made work and the workplace more difficult for older workers. What is age discrimination and why might an employer to discriminate against an older worker? Other than legal action, what could be done to make work environments more friendly to older workers and to reduce age discrimination? Do you see attitudes towards older workers changing in the future? Why or why not?
  26. What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of social security? How would you change social security, if at all? What do you see as the future of social security? Will it be around when you retire? Why or why not?
  27. How did early gerontologists tend see the impact of retirement on the aging individual? Why did they adopt this view? What does current research say about the impact of retirement on the individual? Under what circumstances might retirement have a negative impact? What do recent trends in retirement suggest about attitudes toward retirement?
  28. What impact, if any, has the growing numbers of elderly had on American politics? Are the elderly an influential political force? Why or why not? Will they become more influential as their numbers grow? What impact has the growing numbers of elderly had on public policy issues such as taxation, education, Medicare, and social security? Will the growing numbers of elderly substantially change public policy in the future?
  29. What is "intergenerational equity?" Is it attainable? Why or why not? Should we strive to attain it? What evidence is offered by those who argue the elderly receive a disproportionate amount of social and economic support from our government? Do you agree? What, if anything, needs to be done to establish equity?