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Sociological Aspects of Later Adulthood
Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman (2016) refer to adults in later adulthood as “a population at risk” (p. 717). Why are individuals in later adulthood a vulnerable population? What role might social work play in addressing the needs of this population?
This week, you consider factors that impact the vulnerability of individuals in later adulthood, including differing cultural perspectives of older individuals and consider ways to increase support for this population in your local community.
Learning Objectives
Students will:
Analyze sociocultural differences in perspectives on aging
Apply perspectives on aging to social work practice
Evaluate local community resources for older individuals
Photo Credit: vm / E+ / Getty Images
Learning Resources
Required Readings
Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (10th ed.). Boston, MA:  Cengage Learning.
Chapter 16, “Sociological Aspects of Later Adulthood”
Optional Resources
Use the link below to access the MSW home page, which provides resources for your social work program.
MSW home page
Tucker-Seeley, R. D., Li, Y., Sorensen, G., & Subramanian, S. V. (2011). Lifecourse socioeconomic circumstances and multimorbidity among older adults. BMC Public Health, 11(4), 313–321.
Discussion: Sociocultural Differences in Perspectives on Aging
Western cultures think of time in linear terms while other cultures perceive the passage of time in cyclical terms (Helman, 2005). Helman states, “The clock, the watch and the calendar are among the main cultural symbols of Western industrial society” (para. 3). How might a culture’s perception of time influence views of individuals in later adulthood? What other cultural differences might impact a people’s view of aging? This week, you explore different cultures’ perspectives on aging and consider how these differences might impact social work.
To prepare for this Discussion, research two cultures different from your own and compare their perspectives on aging to that of your own culture.
By Day 3
Post a Discussion that compares your culture’s perspective on aging to the perspectives of the two cultures you researched. Explain why you think these differences exist. Also, explain how different perspectives on aging might impact social work practice.
Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.
By Day 5
Respond to at least two colleagues who addressed cultures that are different from the ones you addressed. Share an insight from reading your colleagues’ postings. Describe how you might incorporate the cultural perspectives on aging described by your colleagues into your own social work practice.
Be sure to support your responses with specific references to the resources. If you are using additional articles, be sure to provide full APA-formatted citations for your references.
Assignment: Community Resources for Older Individuals
Volunteers and political officials in local communities often campaign to improve conditions and provide services to increase the well-being of individuals and families living in those communities. If you are the parent of young children, you might focus on improving the local school or creating safe places where children can play. If you are an individual in later adulthood or a caregiver for an individual in later adulthood, what community resources might be important to you? For this week’s Assignment, you evaluate the resources that your local community provides for its older members.
To prepare for this Assignment, research the resources available in your local community to support the issues and concerns of the older population. Note any gaps in these services and consider what improvements might be made to existing services as well as what services should be added.
By Day 7
Submit a 2- to 4-page paper that includes the following:
A description of the services in your local community that support individuals in later adulthood
An evaluation of the effectiveness of the services you identified
A description of service gaps you identified
An explanation of how to improve existing services
A description of services that should be added, and why

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