SOC 4020/5020--Sociology of Aging
Exam 2 Study Questions
- 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
- 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
- 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?
- 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?
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- What is the general attitude toward death and dying in
America? What is meant by the medicalization of death?
How have medicine and the health care system affected our
attitudes toward death and dying? What is hospice? Does
hospice represent a shift in our attitudes toward death
and dying? Explain you answer. Are the attitudes of the
elderly toward death and dying different from younger age
groups? How do the elderly generally feel about death and
- Discuss the quality of life vs. quantity of life debate.
Be sure to address (a) the use of extraordinary means to
keep people alive; (b) the death with dignity movement;
(c) euthanasia and assisted suicide; (d) living wills and
- How likely are elderly women to experience the loss of
spouse? What about elderly men? How likely are elderly
widows to remarry? What about widowers? What does
research suggest about the impact of loosing a spouse in
later life? Do the effects differ between men and women?
What might account for these differences?