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Aging in the Social Environment

Anissa T. Rogers

Available: May 2023

ISBN: 9780197585122

Online Resource

Retail Price to Students: $0.01

An intersectional, strengths-based approach that challenges students to think critically about aging and society


Aging in the Social Environment examines the aging process from micro, mezzo, and macro lenses. The micro lens looks at individual processes of aging such as biological, emotional, spiritual, and psychological factors along with topics such as health, resilience, sexuality, and creativity as we age. The mezzo lens looks at processes beyond the individual including work, roles, family, caregiving, living arrangements, religious involvement, and health care. The macro lens looks at factors such as culture, media, laws, policies, language, and stereotypes about aging.

Chapters integrate information from an intersectional perspective: topics are discussed examining factors such as age, class, race, ethnicity, geography, culture, gender identification, and sexual orientation. Also, topics are approached using queer, feminist, and strengths-based approaches instead of a problem-based approach, as used in most texts. These approaches help students to critically think about current, entrenched attitudes about aging and to look at aging processes from different perspectives. It gives attention throughout on the use of language and stereotypes for the aging process, and incorporates new, strengths-based language (e.g., third age) to provide readers with alternative ways of thinking and talking about aging. Finally, the book is organized using a human development approach to integrate aging more thoroughly with the entire developmental process rather than treating it as a separate, distinct process in human development that occurs at the end of life.


  • A breadth of traditional and alternative frameworks--including queer, feminist, and intersectional perspectives--helps to challenge common stereotypes centered around aging
  • A strengths-based approach encourages students to develop a more positive and optimistic view of aging
  • Vignettes and assessments in each chapter foster deeper engagement with the material
  • The only gerontology textbook on the market to offer a holistic, intersectional, strengths-based, life span perspective to integrate aging more thoroughly into the human development process
  • Challenges stereotypes about aging and helps readers understand aging as an integral part of the human experience, rather than a separate process that "others" older adults
  • Helps reshape the language we use about aging, thereby changing attitudes about aging

About the Author(s)

Anissa T. Rogers is a Professor at California State University, San Bernardino's School of Social Work.

Joy Swanson Ernst is an Associate Professor at the Wayne State University School of Social Work.


"The authors' stance is what I see lacking in many existing texts, namely a more passionate and engaging tone that courteously challenges more textbook-like writing that is devoid of a strong view."--Joyce Weil, University of Northern Colorado

"Faculty in professional programs will welcome this book because it is strongly tied to practice."--Marla Berg-Weger, Saint Louis University

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. Gerontology: The Study of Aging
    1.1 What is Gerontology?
    I.Population Aging
    II.Consequences of Population Aging
    1.2 Careers in Gerontology
    1.3 Common Theories of Aging
    I. Biopsychosocial Theories
    II. Additional Perspectives on Aging
    1.4 What is Ageism?
    1.5 Types of Ageism
    I. Middle-ageism
    II. Neuroageism
    III. Benevolent Ageism
    IV. Individual and Institutional Ageism
    1.6 How Culture Influences the Perception of Aging
    I. Media and Literature
    II. Interplay of Complex Factors
    1.7 Consequences of Ageism
    I.Effect on Physical and Mental Health
    II.Effect on Health Care
    III. Othering
    IV. Microaggressions
    V. Effect on Social Policy
    1.8 A More Positive View of Aging
    I. Successful Aging
    II. Optimal Aging
    III. Avoiding Ageist Language

    Chapter 2. Biology of Aging
    2.1 Defining "Age"
    I. Subjective Age
    II. Intersectional Factors that Affect Aging
    2.2 Age and Human Development
    2.3 Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Biological Aging
    2.4 Theories of Biological Aging
    I. Genetic (Programmed) Theory
    II. Wear-and-Tear and Mitochondrial Theories
    2.5 Age-Related Changes by Body System
    I. Skin and Hair
    II. Senses: Hearing and Vision
    III. Musculoskeletal System
    IV. Immune System
    V. Endocrine System
    VI. Central Nervous System: The Brain
    Treatment for Dementia
    2.6 Promoting Health and Longevity
    I. Health Disparities and Older Adults
    II. Promoting Health and Well-Being
    Physical Activity
    Behavioral and Environmental Accommodations

    Chapter 3. Psychology of Aging
    3.1 Theories of Psychological Age
    I. Erikson's Psychosocial Stages of Development
    II. Peck's Theory of Ego Integrity
    III. Intersectional and Cultural Factors
    IV. Intersection of Age and Gender
    V. Intersections of Other Characteristics
    3.2 Personality and Emotion
    I. Personality and Aging
    II. Emotion and Aging
    3.3 Learning
    I. Cognitive Plasticity
    II. Preserving Healthy Brain Function
    III. Overcoming Barriers to Learning
    3.4 Mental Health
    I. Depression
    II. Anxiety
    III. Substance Use Disorders
    IV. Suicide
    V. Screening and Diagnosis
    VI. Treatment
    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    Narrative and Reminiscence Therapies

    3.5 Resiliency, Creativity, Productivity, and Wisdom
    I. Resiliency
    II. Creativity
    III. Productivity
    IV. Wisdom
    3.6 Spirituality

    Chapter 4. Sociology of Aging
    4.1 Social Theories of Aging
    I. Disengagement Theory
    II. Activity Theory
    III. Continuity Theory
    IV. Life Course Model of Social Functioning
    V. Social Convoy Model
    4.2 Social Connectedness
    I. Physical and Mental Health Benefits
    II. Social Connectedness Across Cultures
    4.3 Social Connection via Friendships
    I. Evolving Social Networks
    II. Benefits of Friendship
    III. Friendships Among LGBT Older Adults
    IV. Female vs. Male Friend Groups
    V. Intergenerational Friendships
    4.4 Social Connection via Sexuality and Intimacy
    I. Beliefs About Sexuality
    II. Decreased Sexual Activity
    III. Differences Between Population Groups
    IV. Risk of Sexually Transmitted Disease
    V. Influence of Technology

    Chapter 5. Death and End-of-Life Issues
    5.1 What is Death?
    I. Defining Physical Death
    II. Physical Process of Dying
    III. Perceptions of Death
    5.2 End-of-Life Rights and Choices
    I. Right to Die
    II. Death with Dignity Legislation
    III. Hospice Care
    IV. Disparities at End of Life
    5.3 Preparing for End of Life
    5.4 Experiencing Grief and Loss

    I. Types of Grief
    II. Theories and Models of Grief
    Kübler-Ross Theory
    Other Models of
    III. Awareness of Death
    5.5 Memorializing and Taking Care of the Dead
    I. Disposition of Bodies
    Green Burials
    Organ, Tissue, and Body Donation

    II. Memorialization After Death
    III. Impact of COVID Pandemic on Funeral Practices

    Chapter 6. Family and Caregiving
    6.1 Defining "Family"
    6.2 Theories of Family and Aging

    I. Family Development Theory
    II. Theory of Intergenerational Solidarity and Conflict
    III. Theory of Intergenerational Ambivalence
    6.3 Familial Roles and Relationships
    I. Marriage and Long-Term Partnerships
    II. Defining a "Good" Marriage
    III. Divorce
    III. Parents and Adult Children
    Adult Children with Challenges
    Effects of Increased Longevity

    IV. Sibling Relationships
    V. Blended Families
    Negotiation of Boundary Ambiguity
    Intergenerational Resource Exchange
    Filial Norms and Expectations

    VI. Multigenerational Families and Households
    Benefits and Drawbacks of Multigenerational Living

    VII. Grandparents and Grandchildren
    Role of Grandparents
    Caring for Grandchildren

    VIII. Companion Animals
    6.4 Caring for Older Adults
    I. Adults with Dementia
    II. Informal Care
    Rewards and Challenges
    Support for Caregivers

    III. Formal Care
    IV. Impact on Caregivers
    V. Person- and Family-Centered Care
    6.5 Elder Abuse
    I. Factors That Contribute to Elder Abuse
    Caregiving Situations
    Intergenerational Ambivalence

    II. Families with a History of Violence
    III. Prevention and Intervention Strategies

    Chapter 7. Work and Retirement
    7.1 Work and Older Adults

    I. The Nature of Work
    II. U.S. Labor Trends
    III. Generational Perspective
    IV. Ageism in the Workplace
    Intergenerational Work Teams
    Abolishing Mandatory Retirement
    Antidiscrimination Laws

    V. Caregiving and Work
    7.2 Retirement
    I. Sense of Purpose and Longevity
    II. Effects of Retirement
    III. Phases of Retirement
    7.3 Financial Support in Retirement
    7.4 Volunteerism and Community Involvement
    7.5 Lifelong Learning

    Chapter 8. Living Arrangements
    8.1 Housing and Care Options for Older Adults
    I. Types of Residential Facilities and Communities
    II. Older Adults with Special Needs
    8.2 Aging in Place
    I. The Importance of Place
    II. Research on Aging in Place
    III. Changing Needs Over Time
    8.3 Theories and Approaches to Place and Aging
    I. Environmental Gerontology
    II. Geographical Gerontology
    8.4 Older Adults in Urban and Rural Environments
    8.5 The Importance of Neighborhoods

    I. Gentrification
    II. Urban Neighborhoods: Challenges, Resources, and Resilience

    8.6 Housing Options for Older Adults
    I. Historical Background
    II. The Housing Continuum
    III. Innovative Solutions
    Age-Friendly Communities
    LGBT 65+ Housing Initiatives
    Home Sharing
    Communal Living
    Intergenerational Programming and Communities

    IV. Housing for Low-Income Seniors
    V. Continuing Care Retirement Communities
    VI. Assisted Living Facilities
    VII. Supportive Housing
    VIII. Nursing Homes
    IX COVID-19 and Long-Term Care Facilities
    8.7 Living Arrangements of Vulnerable Populations
    I. Older Adults in Prison
    II. Older Victims of Domestic Abuse
    III. Older Adults Without Housing

    Chapter 9. Community Resources and Connectedness
    9.1 The Importance of Connection
    I. Defining Community
    II. Community Resources
    III. Self-Determination and Social Usefulness
    IV. Social Connection and Social Isolation
    9.2 Religious and Spiritual Communities
    I. Spiritual Practices
    II. Benefits of Religious and Spiritual Involvement
    9.3 Recreation and Community Involvement
    I. Sports and Fitness
    II. Travel
    III. The Arts
    IV. Volunteer Work
    V. Socializing in "Third Places"
    9.4 Health Care Services
    I. Access to Health Care
    II. Primary Care
    III. Geriatricians
    IV. Age-Friendly Health Care
    V. Treatment Programs
    9.5 Social Services for Older Adults and Their Families
    I. Prevention Services
    II. Adult Day Care
    III. In-Home Personal Care
    IV. Protective Services
    V. Support Services
    VI. Resource Brokerage and Linkage

    Chapter 10. Media and Technology
    10.1 Media and Older Adults

    I. News Media
    II. Educational and Entertainment Media
    III. Ageism in the Media
    IV. Social Media
    10.2 Technology Use by Older Adults
    I. Access to Technology
    II. Combating Stereotypes
    III. Technology Use for Lifelong Learning
    IV. Technology Use for Social Connection and Entertainment
    V. Technology Use to Improve Health
    VI. Digital Literacy
    VII. Online Safety
    10.3 Technology and End of Life

    Chapter 11. Global Trends in Aging
    11.1 Global Aging
    I. United Nations Initiatives Related to Aging
    II. Population Aging
    III. Living Arrangements
    IV. Life Expectancy and Health
    V. Work and Retirement
    VI. Ageism Worldwide
    11.2 Culture and Aging
    I. Cross-National Comparisons
    II. Cross-Cultural Comparisons
    III. Cultural Influences on Aging
    11.3 Aging in the United States in Global Context
    I. U.S. Life Expectancy
    II. Foreign-Born Population
    11.4 Immigration, Migration, and Aging
    I. Who Migrates and Why?
    II. Older Adults in Home Countries
    III. Older Immigrants in Destination Countries
    Early vs. Late-Life Immigrants
    Older Refugees Fleeing War and Terror
    Legal Status and Threat of Deportation

    11.5 Aging and Climate Change
    I. Climate Change and Migration
    II. Health Impacts of Climate Change
    III. Climate Change and Natural Disasters

    Chapter 12. Legal, Policy, and Economic Issues That Affect Older U.S. Adults
    12.1 Social Policies and Legislation
    I. Social Policy and Aging Policy
    II. History of U.S. Aging Policies
    III. Social Security
    Retirement Age

    IV. Medicare
    V. Medicaid
    VI. Affordable Care Act
    VII. Older Americans Act
    VIII. Long-Term Care Services and Supports
    Cost of Long-Term Care
    Quality of Long-Term Care

    IX. Elder Justice Act
    X. Americans with Disabilities Act
    XI. Assistance for Low-Income Older Adults
    12.2 Poverty, Inequality, and Cumulative Disadvantage
    I. Poverty Measurement
    II. Who is Poor?
    Variance Between Population Groups
    Cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage

    III. Poverty and Cumulative Disadvantage
    12.3 Political Participation and Advocacy
    I. Voting Patterns of Older Adults
    II. Intersection of Politics and Policy
    III. Advocacy Organizations
    Gray Panthers
    Leadership Council of Aging Organizations
    Other Organizations

Related Titles

Aging in the Social Environment

Gerontology: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

John C. Cavanaugh and Susan Krauss Whitbourne