What are the general characteristics associated with the wellbeing of older people?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is not entirely surprising that to speak of the general characteristics associated with the wellbeing of older people is going to be, well, general.  The specific conditions that govern the well being of older people are as wide and varied as possible.  This is because when addressing the needs and characteristics of human beings, realities are often divergent.  

One general characteristic associated with the well being of older people is the need to create a definition of aging that does not stigmatize.  Just as we define the well being of young people or adolescents as a diverse condition and not singular in nature, one of the most significant characteristics associated with the wellbeing of older people is to not create a definition of aging that stigmatizes them.  The literature reflects the need to develop a dialectical understanding of aging that embraces complexity in grasping the well being of older people:

Some gerontologists have introduced the term 'successful aging, emphasizing the point that not all aging is negative. This, however, has led to the possibility of stigmatizing older adults who have a disability. To avoid this problem, Kennedy and Minkler (1998) argue for a dialectical vision of aging wherein both able-bodied and disabled bodies are all part of aging.

The recognition that the general construction of aging is one that represents a wide swath of the experience is an essential characteristic associated with the wellbeing of older people.

While difference and individuality is an essential characteristic associated with the wellbeing of older people, the reality is that in becoming older, there is a fierce recognition of the temporal.  Another characteristic associated with the wellbeing of older people is an understanding that time is essential.  The wellbeing of older people rests with initiatives and constructions that take time and contact within that time as something that can enhance the general welfare of the aged:

Time was identified as an important factor in being able to work in a person-centered  way. ‘Being present’ with the person, acknowledging their situation and feelings, and  building trust, being consistent and reliable were also considered crucial. Staff reflected that the quality of relationships can impact on the intervention and being attentive to small things can make a difference to the person’s well-being.

The force of time is a general characteristic associated with the wellbeing of older people.  The meaning of interpersonal relationships is a general characteristic associates with the wellbeing of older people.  The ability to create initiatives to invest the time with older people contributes to a general enhancement of wellbeing.  These meaningful relationships and initiatives are ones where time is essential, understood in its finite quality.  Such time- based initiatives enhance wellbeing because they "contribute to a sense of being connected with others and the outside world."

Finally, literature speaks to the need of addressing the role of economics in addressing the wellbeing of older people.  The need to develop a material perspective associated with the wellbeing of older people.  Understanding the role of economics is essential to to developing a greater awareness of the wellbeing of older people:  

Although most older Americans live in adequate, affordable housing, some live in costly, physically inadequate, or crowded housing. Additionally, major inequalities continue to exist; older blacks and people without high school diplomas report smaller economic gains and fewer financial resources overall. 

Economics represents a general characteristic that must be associated with the wellbeing of older people.  When economics is understood in a specific context, interventions and initiatives can be enacted with greater purpose and relevance.  Once again, the trend of recognizing the larger configuration with a sense of individual acknowledgement becomes dominant in addressing the general characteristics associated with the wellbeing of older people.

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