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Sociology of Aging

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Part of the Mental Health and Illness Worldwide book series (MHIW)

Abstract

The relevance of social factors and not only biological and psychological factors is now considered to be a truism in present-day psychiatry. Aging is certainly related to physiological changes the body goes through during the life course but is also influenced by the social norms and expectations pertaining to different periods in the individuals’ life. The purpose of this chapter is to address both empirical data and theoretical background studied in the sociology of aging. This discipline seeks to understand the social aspects in the process of aging and the challenges encountered as seniors grow older. Different sociological aspects are relevant for psychiatrists; this chapter is written by clinicians, and the emphasis will be placed on sociological subjects relevant to geriatric psychiatrists in particular.

The sections in this chapter review the process of aging, the biological facts, the cultural attitudes, and the social implications, including distinctive social situations in elderly individuals, such as the differences in men/women, retirement, potential dependency, and problems related to caregivers or to economic difficulties. The aging in the population is approached to explain demographic changes, including those related to marital status, migration, educational level, or socioeconomic status. Furthermore, this chapter reviews some specific challenges for the elderly, including the ageism, abuse, and stereotypes, and analyzes classical sociological theories of aging. This chapter ends by portraying potential guidelines for actions on aging.

Keywords

  • Sociology
  • Aging
  • Theories
  • Geriatric psychiatry
  • Ageism
  • Stereotype
  • Elderly

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Lobo, A., De la Cámara, C., Gracia-García, P. (2017). Sociology of Aging. In: Chiu, H., Shulman, K. (eds) Mental Health and Illness of the Elderly. Mental Health and Illness Worldwide. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-2414-6_4

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