Child Abuse Because of their dependent status, it is too often children who experience the brunt of their parents’ frustrations or failures. Problems of the Elderly 9.3 Identify and elaborate on the problems that confront the elderly in modern societies. Work & Retirement In all societies, what people do to make a living is important to them. Work provides an economic livelihood, and it is a major source of self- esteem and sense of personal self-worth. Mandatory retirement was largely eliminated in the US when the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 was amended in 1986. Despite this, companies may deliberately “restructure” as an excuse for the wholesale dismissal of older workers. o Complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under the provisions of the ADEA average about 18,000 each year (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2013). According to a summary of research on the topic of retirement, people are likely to enjoy retirement if: o Retirement is voluntary rather than forced o One’s income and health are good enough to live comfortable in retirement o Work is not the most important thing in one’s life o Some preparation and planning for retirement have occurred (McConnell, 1983:340). Poverty & Financial Problems The poverty rate among people over 65 years of age in the US was 9.1% in 2012, slightly below that of people between the ages of 18 and 64. This represents astonishing progress over 50 years ago when more than 25% of the elderly were poor–almost three times higher than nonelderly adults. When we look at the total wealth or total net worth, the elderly are in some ways better off than younger adults (Peterson, 1991).
o For example, during the 1980s, the net worth of families headed by someone over 64 years of age increased, whereas the net worth of families headed by someone o55 or younger decreased. o The share of the total wealth going to the elderly went from 26% in the 1960s to 33% today, whereas adults 35 years or younger got only 6% of that wealth then and today. When the elderly do experience economic difficulties, it is usually for one of two reasons: o The elderly are more likely than other adults to be outside the workforce and thus prevented from earning a high income. Only 30% of the income of people 65 years or older comes from earnings. The rest of their income comes from things like Social Security, retirement benefits, assets, or public assistance. o They [the elderly] have worked for years at jobs with no retirement pension plan or with few benefits. Some elderly find themselves heavily dependent on SS or other transfer income from the government. Social Isolation 27% of the elderly live alone today compared with 18% in 1960 (US Bureau of the Census, 2011:39). Research indicates that loneliness and isolation are not a problem for most elderly, at least most of the time (Atchley and Barusch, 2004).
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