SOCIAL POLICY IMPLICATIONS
Creating sound social policy requires good information. Elected officials and others who create policy rely on research findings to provide the basis for policy. In terms of social policies affecting older adults, the data obtained through the use of the research designs discussed earlier are critical.
For example, research such as Schaie’s research on intellectual development described in the How Do We Know? feature had a major impact on the elimination of nearly all mandatory retirement
rules in the 1980s. Research on worker satisfaction and post-retirement lifestyles influenced decisions in corporations such as McDonald’s and Wal- Mart to hire older adults, who are highly reliable employees.
In each of the remaining chapters we will be highlighting a particular social policy and how it relates to research. By making these ties, you will be able to understand better how research findings can be applied to address social issues.
1.1 Perspectives on Adult Development
What is gerontology? How does ageism relate
to stereotypes of aging?
• Gerontology is the study of aging from maturity through old age, as well as the study of older adults as a special group.
• Myths of aging lead to negative stereotypes of older people, which can result in ageism, a form of discrimination against older people simply because of their age.
What is the life-span perspective?
• The life-span perspective divides human development into two phases: an early phase (childhood and adolescence) and a later phase (young adulthood, middle age, and old age).
• There are four key features of the life-span perspective: multidirectionality, plasticity, historical context, and multiple causation.
What are the characteristics of the older adult
• The number of older adults in the United States and other industrialized countries is increasing
rapidly because of better health care, including declines in mortality during childbirth. The large numbers of older adults have important implications for human services.
• The number of older Latino, Asian American, and Native American adults will increase much faster between now and 2050 than will the number of European American and African American older adults.
• Whether older adults reflect individualism or collectivism has implications for interventions.
• The increase in numbers of older adults is most rapid in developing countries.