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Discussion – Approaches to Aging

Discussion – Approaches to Aging

As an American, my culture is probably the furthest thing from the best when it comes to our approach to aging. Our cultural perspective on aging is based on conflict theory, where older people experience age-based prejudice and discrimination. Accordingly, there are inequalities among the elders, which also exist along the lines of gender, race/ethnicity, and social class. However, other common themes and attitudes can be observed in American society when it comes to aging. The most common is the youth-oriented culture. American culture often places a high value on youth and beauty. The media and advertising industries frequently promote the idea that youth is ideal, which can lead to a certain degree of ageism and the belief that aging is something to be avoided or hidden. This attitude extends even in matters of sexuality, whereby the physical signs of aging are regarded with distaste (Hillier & Barrow, 2014).

Secondly, retirement is a significant life event in American culture, and many people look forward to their retirement years as a time to relax and enjoy life. However, the retirement age keeps going down, meaning younger individuals are being forced to retire earlier because they are aging. The same applies to older individuals trying to get a job; they are denied opportunities because of the assumption/stereotype that older persons are slower or incapable (Hillier & Barrow, 2014). The third theme is the anti-aging industry. There is a substantial anti-aging industry in the US, with many products and services aimed at reducing the visible effects of aging (Pradana, 2022). These include cosmetic procedures, skincare products, and dietary supplements.

Notably, these approaches contrast with aging approaches in India, which are based on the activity theory approach. Instead of viewing older adults as less useful, the Indian culture strongly emphasizes respecting and honoring elders. Older individuals are often held in high regard and are seen as sources of wisdom and experience. Secondly, there is family and intergenerational living in India, with the oldest person being the head of the family (Verma & Satyanarayana, 2012). In America, older adults mainly live independently from their children unless they are sick or too old to be alone; then, they are often placed in nursing homes. Lastly, in India, living a long and healthy life is considered a sign of virtue and good character. Aging is viewed as a natural and respected part of life. In the US, there is a cultural emphasis on youth and often a desire to delay or reverse the signs of aging.

Both approaches significantly impact our attitudes and beliefs toward aging. The American approach creates a negative attitude towards aging, and some people end up going to extreme lengths to try and stop their aging. In addition, the conflict theory approach also leads to stereotypes and negative attitudes towards older adults, causing discrimination and mistreatment of older people. In contrast, the activity theory approach is more beneficial to older people because it demands that they be treated with respect and care.


Hillier, S. M., & Barrow, G. M. (2014). Aging, the individual, and society. Cengage learning.

Pradana, A. A. (2022). Ageism in the community. Authorea Preprints.

Verma, S. K., & Satyanarayana, A. (2012). Patterns of intergenerational relations in an Indian family. Indian Journal of Gerontology26(3), 367-385.


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Discussion - Approaches to Aging

Discussion – Approaches to Aging

Compare and contrast two approaches to aging: the approach your ethnic or cultural background utilizes and the approach one other ethnic/cultural background utilizes. How do you think these approaches to aging influence our attitudes and beliefs toward aging? Don’t forget to support your discussion with scholarly references.

Required Course Textbook: CHAPTERS 6-10 & 13
Aging, the Individual, and Society, 10th edition. S. M. Hillier & G. M. Barrow. ISBN-978-1-285-74661-6

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