Pages:9 (2613 words)
Document Type:Essay Prompts
The Issue of Age in Cultural Diversity
Age is an important aspect of cultural diversity that often goes ignored. For that reason ageism is a particularly problematic issue. Racism and sexism are often reported on but prejudice against the elderly is not so commonly touched upon in society. For example, the current presidential candidate Joe Biden is often mocked on social media by people engaging in ageist behavior, attacking him for being senile and having dementia because he stutters or stumbles in his speech or train of thought while campaigning. What people do not realize is that they would likely not fare any better were they to hit the campaign trail and have to give numerous speeches. As Albom (2019) notes, “jabs at Joe Biden mask our growing ageism issue.” This paper will discuss the cultural factors regarding age, developmental theory models, relevant laws, other diversity issues, resources available for special services, and my own personal characteristics towards complementing age and concerns for my cultural competency. The main point this paper will make is that age is a diversity issue that needs to be given more attention as there is a high degree of ageism in this country especially among young people who derogatorily refer to their elders as “boomers” and have no problem mocking the elderly for what appears to them to be cognitive decline.
Historical, Political, Social, Economic and Cultural Factors Regarding Age
In older societies age was revered and one was taught to respect one’s elders. This was the customary practice in both the East and the West. However, in the 20th century there was a marked shift in terms of the generation gap, as the younger generation adopted more liberal values and the older generation viewed the younger generation as having no sense of respect, what hard work and commitment meant, and why younger people should mind their manners. The cultural barriers for place and respect were disintegrated all over the world (David, 2018).
However, with 2008 global economic crisis, many older persons who ordinarily would have retired continued on working in the workplace, fearing that their economic futures were not secure. Thus, the workforce is aging in the 21st century (Heggeness, Carter-Johnson, Schaffer, & Rockey, 2016). This means that there are now certain challenges for management in today’s workplace, such as the fact that the workplace now consists of multiple generations of workers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, but also it means that issues like ageism, appropriate motivational approaches, and physical limitations of older workers have to be addressed. With more than a third of today’s workers now expecting to work past the age of retirement, an aging workforce is fast becoming a reality and creating increased need for cultural competency with respect to age (Lassila, 2019).
Developmental Theory Models
Erikson’s Psychosocial Developmental Theory explains how the various stages of one’s life play out in terms of the central conflict of each age. Thus, the first stage is the Trust vs. Mistrust stage and occurs between the ages of 0 and 2. Second is Autonomy vs. Shame occurring between ages 2-3. Third is Initiative vs. Guilt for children from 3-5. Fourth is Industry vs. Inferiority for children 5-12 and fifth is Identity vs. Role Confusion for adolescents from 12-18. Sixth is Intimacy vs. Isolation for adults from ages 18-40. Seventh is Generativity vs. Stagnation for ages 40-65. The eighth and final stage is Ego Integrity vs. Despair from age 65 on up (McLeod, 2018). From this model one can see how age impacts one’s views as every age has its own conflict to deal with as the person finds his or her place in the world. This perspective can be combined with labeling theory, which can add complexity to the perspective on age as it includes the biases and prejudices that people bring to their own internal issues.
Labeling theory posits that people will apply negative labels to others as a way of marginalizing them and taking power from them. People who want to have power over others label them with derogatory terms show that it is different and unacceptable to what they are doing (Lumen, 2019). When young people label older people as handicapped or as senile it shows that they are not attempting to honor or respect their elders but rather are attempting to marginalize them and take power from them. This has effects on older people. For example, one of the major challenges that older adults face in terms of mental health is the problem of depression (Landeiro, Barrows, Musson, Gray & Leal, 2017). Yet, if younger people would stop trying to label older people, they could actually help them and construct a more stable and…
…aging workforce can face obstacles. Older workers may also lack stamina and have reduced homeostasis, which is the ability to operate normally even after a change of environment. In short, older workers may face challenges in each of the following categories:
· Physical changes
· Cognitive changes
· Affective changes
Dealing with these issues requires sensitivity and cultural competency in terms of appreciating the limitations that come with working with older people. In the physical changes category, the elderly are likely to experience sensory, muscular and aerobic obstacles. Their immune system is not going to be as strong as a younger person, and they are less likely to be resilient to changes in the environment—i.e., fluctuations in temperature, loss of sleep, etc. (Truxillo et al., 2015). Cognitive changes can be result in challenges related to fluid intelligence—i.e., age-related alterations in the person’s ability to process information, rely upon memory or focus and pay attention during a task. Crystallized intelligence presents another cognitive change and refers to the person’s ability to gain new knowledge, skills or wisdom. The older people get the harder it usually is for them to learn new skills (Truxillo et al., 2015). To be culturally competent, one must be sensitive to the needs of this population.
Age is an issue in culture that needs more attention because it is not something that always comes up when the discussion turns to diversity. There are many factors that influence diversity—race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status—but age is often left off that list, which is unfortunate because ageism is definitely on the rise. Older people are abused by younger people—but younger people can also be prejudiced against by older people. The generation gap has been a problem for decades but it is getting worse because of the fact that the workplace is aging. So now there are multiple generations in the workplace and Millennials are mixing with Generation X and with Baby Boomers. Generation Z is about to join the mix to make it even more complicated. Cultural competency is needed so that all the generations can be understood and so that all have access to the care they required. Each age group should have the right to respect and should not have to fear prejudice from people who want to affix labels to them. Labeling…
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Landeiro, F., Barrows, P., Musson, E. N., Gray, A. M., & Leal, J. (2017). Reducing social isolation and loneliness in older people: a systematic review protocol. BMJ Open, 7(5), e013778.
Lassila, S. (2019). Managing Risks of an Aging Workforce. Construction Executive, 2020. Retrieved from https://constructionexec.com/article/managing-risks-of-an-aging-workforce
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Lumen. (2019). Theoretical perspectives on deviance. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/sociology/chapter/theoretical-perspectives-on-deviance/
McLeod, S. (2018). Erik Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html
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