S: Visual Essay #1 by Kristen St. John
FC: Age & Aging
1: Picture on Cover: Woman Staring;Date Unknown;Edvard March/CORBIS;Stock Photo ID: 42-23445308;Retrieved from: www.corbisimages.com | Recently, the United States has experienced a change in the demographic structure called population aging, which refers to the increasing population of the elderly in relation to the young adults. Research suggests this is occurring due to a decline in birth rates, improvements in life expectancy as a a result of medical and technological advances, improved access to health care, healthier lifestyles, and better health before age 65. Due to the continually increasing elderly (those age 65 years or older) population, a number of social problems have developed.
2: Figure 1:1936 Social Security Information Poster;November 23rd, 1936;Bettman/CORBIS;Stock Photo ID: U371475AACME;Retrieved from: www.corbisimages.com | First, there is the problem of social security. Currently, we are experiencing a crisis with social security partially due to the large baby boom cohort of people that were born shortly after World War II. In the 1930's, Americans were encouraged to apply for social security as soon as they turned 65. Because 10,000 of these baby boomers a day will become eligible for social security benefits during the next two decades, the population applying and receiving social security is increasing substantially and Americans cannot keep up.
5: Figure 2: Social Security Card on Folded Dollar;Date Unknown;Christopher Zacharow/CORBIS;Stock Photo ID: 90009-119;Retrieved from: www.corbisimages.com | Another problem with social security is the annual pay raise. Those receiving social security get a 2% pay raise per year, but it is not enough to keep up with the 6% raise in the prices of groceries or medication.
6: Figure 3: Meat Cleaver Cutting a Stack of Money in Half;Date Unknown;C.J. Burton/CORBIS;Stock Photo ID: 42-21885560;Retrieved from: www.corbisimages.com | Another problem that arises due to aging is a change in social class. Some research suggests that once people reach the age of 55, their median income gradually declines over time.
9: Figure 4: Catching Money Butterflies;Date Unknown;Image Source/CORBIS;Stock Photo ID: 42-23707083;Retrieved from: www.corbisimages.com | Due to this decline, some people have no choice but to use their savings or retirement fund to get by, and then apply for Social Security as soon as they are eligible.
10: Figure 5:China-Shanghai-Old Age-Elderly People Learn How to Use Computers;June 14, 2007;Ryan Pyle/CORBIS;Stock Photo ID: 42-19247007;Retrieved from: www.corbisimages.com | A contributing factor for this decline in income is ageism in the workplace. While older workers have more experience than their younger counterparts, companies will hire or promote younger workers more often because they can spend less on their salary. Older workers are seen as more expensive due to health insurance costs and unable to adapt to new technology.
13: Figure 6:Prescription Symbol on Dollar Bill;Date Unknown;John Gillmoure/CORBIS;Stock Photo ID: 42-16624336;Retrieved from: www.corbisimages.com | Finally, there is the problem of health and medical care. While Medicare and Medicaid are available to assist the elderly with medical expenses, they do not cover everything.
14: Figure 7:People and Health Care Costs;Date Unknown;Jane Sterett/CORBIS;Stock Photo ID: 81034-77;Retrieved from: www.corbisimages.com | Many elderly are more susceptible to chronic conditions, such as hypertension and heart disease. The American elderly constitute 13% on the U.S. population, and yet they consume more than 35% of healthy expenditures, which is more than four times what is spent on younger people.
16: Figure 8: Close Up Portrait of a Senior Man Looking Confused;Date Unknown; Steve Prezant/CORBIS; Stock Photo ID: 42-36350202; Retrieved from: www.corbisimages.com
17: So why is this social problem happening? According to the interactionist perspective, there are age-related roles that are socially defined and expected. These role expectations stigmatize older adults, and stereotype them as less capable, fragile, weak, and frail. These stereotypes can damage the self-concept of the elderly and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. | From this perspective, the best way to help avoid this social problem is to help all adults, young and old, become aware of these stereotypes and role expectations. If they are conscious of them, then they will be less biased in their judgment of the elderly. Professionals, such as doctors and social workers, should be especially cautious, as research indicates that they are just as likely to be prejudiced against the elderly as other groups are.