Discussion – Week 6

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Discussion: Perspectives on the Aging Process

You may be familiar with the phrases, “You’re only as old as you feel” and “age is nothing but a number.” To what extent do you believe these common sayings? Do you see yourself as younger or older than your biological age? And what are your views on the aging process—is it something to be avoided and feared, or celebrated?

As individuals grow older, they experience biological changes, but how they experience those changes varies considerably. Someone who is particularly fit at 70, for example, might perceive themselves to be in their 50s. And someone who has dealt with significant hardship and ailing health who is 70 might feel like they are in their 80s. Aging adults’ experiences are influenced not only by how they feel but also by how an older adult should look or should act, according to societal norms and stereotypes.

In this Discussion you examine biological aspects of later adulthood, and how these aspects intersect with psychological and social domains. You also consider your own views on aging and how they might impact your work with older clients.

To Prepare:

  • Review the Learning Resources on biological aspects of      later adulthood and the aging process. Identify the biological changes      that occur at this life stage.
  • Consider your thoughts and experiences related to the      aging process and people who are in later adulthood.

By 01/4/2022

Describe two to three biological changes that occur in later adulthood, and explain how the social environment influences them. Then explain how these biological changes could affect the psychological and social domains. Finally, reflect on your own thoughts, perspectives, and experiences related to the aging process. How might these perspectives impact your work with older adults?

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Required Readings

Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.

· Chapter 14, “Biological Aspects of Later Adulthood” (pp. 642–671)

Chapter Review:

Chapter Summary The following summarizes this chapter’s content as it relates to the learning objectives presented at the beginning of the chapter. Chapter content will help prepare students to:

LO 1 Define later adulthood. Later adulthood begins at around age 65. This grouping is an extremely diverse one, spanning an age range of more than 30 years.

LO 2 Describe the physiological and mental changes that occur in later adulthood. Later adulthood is an age of recompense, a time when people reap the consequences of the kind of

life they have lived. The process of aging affects dif-ferent persons at different rates. Nature appears to have a built-in mechanism that promotes aging, but it is not known what this mechanism is.

LO 3 Understand contemporary theories on the causes of the aging process. Theories on the causes of aging can be grouped into three categories: genetic theories, nongenetic cellular theories, and physiological theories. Various factors accelerate the aging process: poor

diet, overwork, alcohol or drug abuse, prolonged ill-nesses, severe disabilities, prolonged stress, negative thinking, exposure to prolonged hot or cold condi-tions, and serious emotional problems. Factors that slow down the aging process include a proper diet, skill in relaxing and managing stress, being physi-cally and mentally active, a positive outlook on life, and learning how to control unwanted emotions.

LO 4 Describe common diseases and major causes of death among older adults. Older people are much more susceptible to physical illnesses than are younger people, yet many older people are reasonably healthy. The two leading causes of death are diseases of the heart and cancer. Alzheimer’s disease affects many older adults.

LO 5 Understand the importance of placing the highest priority on self-care. Everyone (young, middle age, and older) should place a high priority on self-care. If social workers do not care for themselves, their ability to care for others will be sharply diminished or even depleted. Significantly, the intervention strategies that social workers should use for self-care are also precisely the strategies that social workers should convey to their clients so that these clients can improve their lives. Everyone needs physical exercise, mental activity,

a healthy sleep pattern, proper nutrition and diet, and to use quality stress management strategies. Three constructive stress management approaches

are (1) changing the distressing event, (2) chang-ing one’s thinking about the distressing event, and (3) taking one’s mind off the distressing event, usu-ally by thinking about something else. The chapter ends with a discussion of the effects

of stress, and describes a variety of stress manage-ment techniques.

COMPETENCY NOTES The following identifies where Educational Policy (EP) competencies and behaviors are discussed in the chapter.

EP 6a. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to engage with clients and constituencies

EP 7b. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the analysis of assessment data from clients and constituencies. (All of this chapter.) The content of this chapter is focused on social work students acquiring both of these behaviors in work-ing with older persons.

EP 8b. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in interventions with

clients and constituencies (pp. 658–670). Material is presented on self-care interventions that social workers should use in their daily lives to care for themselves. These interventions should also be used by social workers to improve the lives of their clients.

EP 1 Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior (pp. 646, 649, 653, 657) Ethical questions are posed.


See this text’s companion website at www.cengagebrain.com for learning tools such as chapter quizzes, videos, and more.


Nelson, T. D. (2016). Promoting healthy aging by confronting ageism. American Psychologist, 71(4), 276–282

Ricks-Aherne, E. S., Wallace, C. L., & Kusmaul, N. (2020). Practice considerations for trauma-informed care at end of life. Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care, 16(4), 313–329. https://doi.org/10.1080/15524256.2020.1819939

Rine, C. M. (2018). Is social work prepared for diversity in hospice and palliative care? Health and Social Work, 43(1), 41–50. https://doi.org/10.1093/hsw/hlx048

Required Media: Meet Ray: Age 41 to 68 Time Estimate: 2 minutes

Follow Rubric

Initial Posting: Content: 14.85 (49.5%) – 16.5 (55%)

Initial posting thoroughly responds to all parts of the Discussion prompt. Posting demonstrates excellent understanding of the material presented in the Learning Resources, as well as ability to apply the material. Posting demonstrates exemplary critical thinking and reflection, as well as analysis of the weekly Learning Resources. Specific and relevant examples and evidence from at least two of the Learning Resources and other scholarly sources are used to substantiate the argument or viewpoint.

Readability of Postings: 5.4 (18%) – 6 (20%)

Initial and response posts are clear and coherent. Few if any (less than 2) writing errors are made. Student writes with exemplary grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation to convey their message.