7 May 2013
Aging: Successful or Stressful?
We all have fears. Like many, we fear what we do not understand. One source of uncertainty that we all encounter, sooner or later, has to deal with growing old. Old age is a process; it sneaks up on us, as Phyllis Diller said, “Maybe it's true that life begins at fifty. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out” (2). From this truth, I can begin to look in to the aging process and the effects on the human life course. From my observations, I will analyze and discuss social network, health aging, education level, social economic status, and daily activities in the assisted living facility for seniors over sixty-five.
When I arrived at the facility Summerhill Villa, I walked in to a building with two twelve-foot doors made of wood and glass. The lobby had marble floors and marble counter tops, with a large spiral stair case to my left. The Staff at the front desk were very pleasant; she had me sign in and gave me a tour of the facility. The main building had two levels, three common areas, and a dining hall. While on the tour, I counted fifteen staff working in the main building and three men working odd jobs. The facility seemed to be well staffed. Then I was taken over to the secondary building, which was across the parking lot, this building houses the patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The building had three floors, with three staff per a floor. The building as a whole seemed understaffed for the amount of patients. The front door had a code to get in and out of the building. The staff said, “that sometimes the patients try to leave the building to go back to their family.” When I heard that comment, I began to think about the social network of the patients.
On the first day, I was assigned to the main building to entertain in the upstairs common area. When I arrived, there were sixteen Caucasian ladies sitting in a circle staring at each other. I started to engage them with simple questions: their names, where they are from, and how their day is going. Out of the sixteen Caucasian ladies, eight were from New York, Six were local, and four were from Florida. Only three had regular visits from family. That means out of sixteen people, only eighteen percent have regular visits. Eighteen percent is a low number of people getting visits from nuclear or extended family. I feel this observation supports the exchange theory because when the family member has nothing more to offer, he/she becomes worthless and disregarded. Furthermore, later in the common area, I had some one-on-one conversation with four separate women. Out of the four only one had regular visits; in addition, two of the patients disengaged the conversation on the subject of family. I clearly saw that day that when a family member is placed in an assisted living home, the family has acted on the functionalism theory. I feel that the assisted living home has become the last resort for many of the patients.
On the second day, I wanted to focus on how the patients were aging healthy in the assisted living facility. When I arrived in the parking lot, I noticed a woman with her dog sitting in the sun, with a big smile on her face. When I engaged in conversation with the women, I found out she has a sociology degree, sits in the sun for two hours a day and she walks ten laps around the parking lot every morning. I feel the woman falls under the age stratification theory combined with continuity theory. My observation is that from the daily routine of exercise, sun light, and enjoyment of life has aided her in living a healthy life. On the other hand, later that day, when I was on rounds to wake people for dinner, a man was sitting in his chair when we opened the door the lights and TV were off, and the shades closed. The room was musty as if it had been a couple days since hes taken a shower. I asked the staff member, why she would allow the patient to live