SOC 4020/5020--Sociology of Aging

Exam 2 Study Questions

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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."
  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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?
  14. 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.
  15. 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 dying?
  16. 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 advance directives.
  17. 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?