Challenges in old age
The crises and challenges of aging, such as retirement, dependency or old age, bring a person face-to-face with their finiteness, creating anxiety and raising questions related to death. These are times of intense uncertainty, which can lead either to personal growth through a process of adaptation and a upgrading of one’s self-image, or to a dysfunctional approach and an increase in misery, through resistance to alteration.Old age,with its inescapable series of bereavement and loss, is a difficult time of life, and is often a cause of distress on both an individual and a family level. Through its work, the therapist wishes to support the elderly person to manage more peace fully with the hindrances of the external reality and to come to terms with their future death.Many older people live with a silent, crippling fear.The cost of food,medical care, electricity and housing are a constant worry to them and in many cases social security payments remain inadequate to sustain a decent standard of living.
We all know families have the major accountability for the love, care, attention and support that the elderly need, because it is within the family circle that the elderly feel most comfortable and secure and accepted.Older people don’t forfeit their basic human rights simply because they age.
Now we will look into some of the challenges in old age
Physiological Challenges in Old Age
There are universal physiological and psychological changes that occur with aging. It is said that 1/3 functional decline is due to aging, 1/3 due to disease and 1/3 due to disuse. All our organs under go aging process, there by the response to injury and insult decreases.
The skin becomes more fragile, hair follicles reduce and hair becomes friable. Fat around face reduces and exaggerated facial features appear. Taste buds and olfactory cells reduce along with the vision and hearing impairments. There will be atrophy and loss of neurons. It may take longer time to sleep and may wake up in between sleep. Similarly there will be changes in the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, renal system, endocrine,muscles and bones, circulation system, and ther moregulation (tolerance to heat reduces). The possibility for infections in different organs also increaseswith ageing.
Psycho social Challenges in Old Age
As physiological changes in ageing process, socially and psycho socially an aged undergoes a lot of alterations and adjustments. Ageing changes the way a person feels, thinks and behaves. Their feelings and thoughts center on managing growing disability. Unlike in the previous years, he may become more cautious about learning and may need more time to integrate their responses, turn out to be less capable of dealing with new material, and less accurate. There may be general reduction in speed of reasoning and creative achievements. They might have poor recent memories but better remote memories. Their recall is affected more by age than recognition. The vocabulary deterioration is very slight and learning new words is infrequent. The mental rigidity tends to become more pronounced with aging. They believe old values and ways of doing things are better. They may become increasingly more preoccupied with themselves i.e. ego-centric or self-centered. This self-centeredness may contribute to unfavorable social attitude; that means he may withdraw from the social environment. It maybe voluntary or involuntary.
Social Challenges in Old age
Behavior of elderly is affected by social norms and social environment. Retirement, widowhood, isolation, deficit in personal resources and/or coping skills, physical illness, economic and physical dependency, loss of social status, generation gap, major role changes, changes in family and living arrangements, all these can be contributing factors.
Economic Challenges in Old age
Amongst the numerous problems and challenges of the elderly in our society, economic challenges occupy an important position.As individuals live longer and into substantial age (say 75 years and over), they need more exhaustive and extended care,which in turn may rise financial strain in the family. Inadequate income is a major problem of elderly in India. Predominantly in rural areas, families suffer from economic crunch, as their livelihoods do not produce income during the year.