We need a more in-depth look at aging, disabilities
This is the first of a three-part series.
In a college psychology class, I was introduced to Erik Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development. In all honesty, I was not too intrigued with the subject matter. Being classified into a predetermined order of life was offensive to me. That I now find myself immersed in a career and passion for the last two stages of development — generativity vs. stagnation (35 to 65 years) and integrity vs. despair (65 and older) — is ironic.
In my own clinical observations of older adults, I find that many elders place greater emphasis on psychosocial factors, independence and absence of disease or disability as being a key to successful aging.
While the meaning of successful aging varies from person to person, achieving our own version has societal challenges.
We have all heard the phrase, “Live life to its fullest.” With that mindset, we forge forward with our own methods to fulfill our destinies. Some of us will start families, others will want to play sports as kids and young adults, many will begin businesses, and there will even be a few who will sail around the world. For each of us, there is a unique life waiting. Regardless of the chosen path there is one inevitable eventuality — our mortality.
The minute we are born the aging process begins. It’s true, we have lots of growing to do and years of developing before we consider ourselves as entrenched within the aging process. However, our time on this planet is limited, and from that perspective, beginning from our birth we are moving continuously toward mortality.
YOUR ODDS INCREASE
As you might deduce, the probability of developing a disability seems to increase as the aging process progresses. For example, if we all agree that the required use of a wheelchair is a disability, we might also all agree that we see more elder people in wheelchairs than people younger than 65. So it would seem that as we age, the likelihood of incurring a disability also increases.
In other words, as we age the chances of incurring a disability increase. And by some definitions of disability, we will all be classified as disabled.
So it would appear that aging and disabilities are linked. With that thought in mind, let me suggest that this week’s article is an introduction for a more in-depth look at how we perceive aging and disabilities, and how we also handle the treatment of both those concepts, in our social as well as political worlds.
Spend a moment and define aging and disability, then ask yourself: How does the medical field handle the treatment of a physical disability in a 70 year old versus a 35 year old — and why?
To further complicate the issue, how does the governmental bureaucracy and its vast medical machine offer treatments to each of these individuals? Lastly, we should define “disabled” in a more appropriate term for our elderly; especially considering the idea of eventual disability for us all. Would that open up more potential funding sources for care?
The world is changing
Attitudes and approaches to aging, disabilities and illnesses are changing. To be in the forefront of our industry, we at Visiting Angels work very hard to be creative and proactive not only in our operations but in our philosophical approach to providing services.
Next week, I will address differences in how we address and provide medical services to our aging population.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or 970-328-5526.