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The human relations and interactions portrayed by an individual alter with time as a result of emotional maturity, changes in responsibilities, and variable cognitive aptitude at various phases of life. People in certain situations see social progress as a result of lasting and empowering human relationships. The social contact, support, and vulnerability of the elderly in society are contentious issues. In most cases, feelings of despair and loneliness increase with age due to detached social integration as children become preoccupied with their own families and work commitments. Aging and older adulthood prompts people to retire from active social and economic activities as the younger generations take their position in advancing roles as defined by the society for the individuals at the prime age. It is from the changes in societal roles, personality, cognitive strength, means of livelihood and bereavement that older people experience compromised social interactions. There is dire need for the society to pay attention to the needs of the elderly in order to establish support systems to prevent the older people from succumbing into mental instability and stress arising from isolation. Understanding the true state of aging and older adulthood interactions calls for fact-finding undertaking. This paper will use the facts from an interview with an elderly person; Eva from Arlington born in 1941 in Maytag island to establish the various aspects and implications in aging and older adulthood social interaction and social ties.
Eva who was born in a family of five with two sisters and two brothers depicts a normal social interaction set up with her siblings when she was younger. Eva who got married in 1961 to Jonas gave birth to three children; two sons and a daughter. However, one of Eva’s sons is deceased. Also, Eva has five grandchildren; four grandsons and one granddaughter. From interview, Eva states that she ran a daycare home as a means of livelihood but not for long before she left the venture to raise her grandchildren as her children focused on their own careers. The premature exit from her means of livelihood was sudden and unplanned. Eva states that her blood social circle comprises of her daughter, son, grandson and granddaughter. Eva notes that the location of her children is unknown to her and only her daughter and grandson visit her frequently. Eva’s neighbor who is 50 years old is her best friend for between 15 to 20 years now. Her neighbor is forms her closest social circle where she notes that they check on each other frequently, bring each other food, socialize and ensure that they are well. At the moment, Eva argues that she cannot take care of anyone due to her health. Eva is on oxygen and thus making it difficult for her to leave the house. On her marriage, Eva who got married in 1961 notes that her and her husband ‘… just got along and loved each other’ and thus, she did not have to struggle to avoid divorce which is rampant nowadays. Eva currently is not involved in any activity. On her personality, Eva notes that she does not like to be in crowds and prefers to be home all the time. She also notes that she is very dirty and her house is cluttered and pieces of paper are found everywhere.
From the interview with Eva, several factors on social interactions and interpersonal relationships including social integration, attachment, reliable alliances, guidance, reassurance of worth and opportunity of nurturance comes into play. Social support is depicted as variance affecting mortality and the health of majority of individuals (Hao & Leung, 2016). In the case of Eva, it is evident that her health has deteriorated and right now she needs special attention especially with her dependence on oxygen. While studies indicate that older adults repulse the idea of living with their grown grandchildren or children, keeping close attention and contacts through phone calls and visits is important. Only Eva’s daughter and grandson appear to be keeping in touch with her through visits while the rest of her close blood social circle are detached from her. Also, as studies indicate, the impact of children on a parent’s life is immense. Eva had to suddenly leave her source of livelihood to take care of her grandchildren as her children focused on work. Studies on intergenerational relationships depict that interaction between people from different cohorts which occur within family set ups are prudent when the subject individuals live in different places (Bogunia-Borowska, 2016). While initially Eva was an involved grandparent who took care of grandchildren, she is now a remote grandparent who is emotionally distant and lives far from her children and grandchildren. In the case of siblings, Eva’s relationship with her siblings might have been strong in the younger years as argued by studies and also now where she notes that they are close with two of her sisters.
The facts from the interview with Eva makes the arguments made in the Disengagement Theory of social ties and interactions quite relevant. The disengagement theory argues that there exists a mutual withdrawal between the society and the individuals (Palmore et al., 2016). The older individuals out of their own volition withdraw from the societal roles they assumed in earlier years. The society also moves away from the older adults whereby, the society expects the older individuals to pave way for younger generations to take over roles. In relation to the interview on Eva, Eva is now assuming a dormant role in the society. The society has disengaged from Eva. The roles Eva played during her younger age have been assumed by younger individuals who are more energetic (Treur, 2016). Eva also is withdrawing from the society as seen in her despise for crowds and her preference to stay at home. Non-familial relationships are now relevant to Eva where her long term friendship in the social set up is serving as a source of enjoyment and confidante.
Social interactions and social ties is a complex aspect of aging and the older people in the society. While it would be normal for one to feel the need for the elderly to be closely monitored, it is apparent that the withdrawal by the older from the society is voluntary. It is also evident that apart from the need to keep contacts with the older people through visits and phone calls, the older people are quite comfortable living on their own. The older people assume a dormant role in social interactions to pave way for the younger generations to assume their roles and attain life satisfactions. However, it is paramount to establish healthy relations with the older to avoid isolation due to the positive relations between mortality, poor health and mortality.
Bogunia-Borowska, M. (2016). Social spaces and social relations. Frankfurt am Main; New York: Peter Lang Edition. 2016.
Hao, J., & Leung, H.-F. (2016). Interactions in multiagent systems: Fairness, social optimality and individual rationality. Berlin: Springer; Beijing: Higher education Press. 2016
Palmore, E. B., Branch, L. G., & Harris, D. K. (2016). Encyclopedia of ageism. New York: Routledge, 2013
Treur, J. (2016). Network-Oriented Modeling: Addressing Complexity of Cognitive, Affective and Social Interactions. Cham: Springer International Publishing. 2016
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