This literature review addresses several issues related to the study of aging. Theoretical perspectives, research methods, and current controversies are reviewed. One issue that has beset the development of research on aging is a definition of old age (Scanzoni & Scanzoni, 1988, p. 549). Research in the United Kingdom and the United States has found that the older a person is in a chronological sense, the later is the chronological age at which that person tends to think old age begins.
The concept of old age also is affected by social stratum: lower-status persons, as an example tend to think that old age begins in the fifties, while higher-status persons tend to think that old age begins around age 65. Advances in medical science and technology have led to increased life ps for an increasing proportion of the population; however, social development has not kept pace (Scanzoni & Scanzoni, 1988, p. 549). Thus, many among the growing numbers of older people lead increasingly less rewarding lives.
Further, the increasing numbers of persons in the population aged 65 or older demand that research into aging develop methods that address the differences among age groupings within the 65 and over classification. There also is a subjective context to aging (Scanzoni & Scanzoni, 1988, p. 550). Younger people tend to perceiving old age differently from older people, at a general level, and at a specific level all persons do not age . . . ehavior will be evaluated in the context of one’s basic beliefs.
If these basic beliefs are unrealistic or irrational, one’s expectancies will likely also tend to be unrealistic and irrational. Adaptation enables an individual to understand the surrounding environment (McDougall, 1995, pp. 26-27). Adaptation occurs through the functioning of the mental processes of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation involves the perception and interpretation of new information within the context of existing knowledge and understanding. Accommodation is a more advanced process that involves the restructuring of mental organization in order to include new nformation. The ecological approach to psychology is a functional approach. In this approach, psychological problems are construed as instances of adaptation. Ecological science defines perception as an awareness of one’s environment. The focus in on a being’s vertical experience. Vertical experience implies that an environment permits a being to both live and reproduce. The environment is integral to this definition of perception, because varieties of meaningful experience cannot be studied as instances of perception unless an environmental component is integral to the being
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