Community Psychology Blog, Aging Population
It is important to consider the viable contribution that the aging population can make to the community at large when discussing how their time of retirement can be utilized efficiently and satisfactorily. The older population has much to offer based on the wisdom, knowledge, and life experiences they accumulate over the years. An issue that arises, as mentioned in the video lecture material, is that the aging population loses their sense of meaning and purpose in life as they grow older and potentially become disconnected from the community, their friends, and their families. In order to better under how senior citizens can still contribute to the community, we must educate ourselves on the issues relating to the aging population and the challenges they face as they grow older. Other cultures emphasize and reinforce proper behavior to express toward senior citizens, namely regarding them with utmost respect and treating them kindly, thoughtful of their age in life. We must re-adopt that same attitude. I use the term "re-adopt," because it appears that younger generations are not fully grasping what it means to respect older individuals in changing socio-cultural times. Community agencies and organizations can combat the loss of respect by connecting younger generations with the older generations; for example, by developing school programs where older citizens can volunteer in the classroom settings. The older generation can be given purpose and meaning in such volunteer activities while demonstrating to students the importance of respecting one's elders. By creating relationships between and across generations, one can have a better understanding of the other.
Another way to encourage senior citizens is to keep them engaged in civic life, with local and national voting, policy education, local issues that need to be addressed and the like. Community leaders can actively seek out the aging population, learn the demographics, and conduct outreach activities to show that the elderly population is a valued aspect of the community. They can conduct surveys, promote education surrounding political issues by sending information packets to their homes, and even provide personal calls through agencies to express genuine interest. Community leaders can seek to find out what the needs of this population are and how to address those needs on personal and community levels. Based on the information provided, they can develop an action plan for the next steps to pursue in raising the quality of life for individuals of this age group. Additionally, they can direct senior citizens to different groups such as the American Society on Aging or the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. Such agencies are devoted to bettering the lives of people in older generations through education, advocacy, and community development. One particular way to increase the involvement of the elderly is by conducting assessments of the challenges and successes they've had over the years. In fact, senior citizens living in nursing homes can participate in surveys and evaluations to provide information regarding the treatment they experience under the care of others in communal, assisted living systems. Keeping them engaged in this manner gives them an important role in the community while also giving people running these organizations ideas for how to improve their systems.
Volunteerism, service, and education are all components to improving the lives of the elderly. Encouraging health and wellness practices, promoting community service, and raising awareness among senior citizens can provide avenues for long term, viable partnerships and relationships across generations. Demonstrating our respect and honor for the lives of people older than us can tremendously empower older generations to continue pursuing what they love to do and to continue living robust lives.