AS/SOC 2600 Introduction to Gerontology
Final Exam Study Questions
- 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?
- In your opinion, what theory (or theories) of aging
provide(s) the best framework for understanding aging? Explain your choice.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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?
- What are some of the functions of religion at both the
societal and individual level? Does religion have benefits for aging
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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
- 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
- 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?