Letter to the Editor

Social adjustment in later adulthood

Friday, August 21, 2020

Dear Editor,

Although there are many unique individuals, some generalities about social relationships in late adulthood can be made. This period can be quite lengthy in number of years.

The combination of family relationships, social behavior, living arrangements, financial strength, health and community involvement all factor in to satisfaction in late adulthood.

Eric Ericson, a prominent psychologist, suggests that the fundamental conflict in old age is integrity vs. despair. What the elderly need to so, says Ericson, is to ingrate the experiences of a lifetime, make sense of them and arrive at a feeling of acceptance and contentment.

Integrity is the product of believing that the outcome of oneís life is more positive than a negative and that it has significance and meaning.

Despair is characterized by regret over the past, by a feeling that it is too late to do anything further, and by a fear of dying.

But some experts feel that the elderly are far more generative and creative than people have formerly given them credit for and that they are well able to write new chapters as they sojourn into advanced age.

I personally believe that when you accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life, the Holy Spirit will help you renew your mind and help you find purpose at any age.

When older adults take to their recliners or sit outside enjoying nature, itís altogether possible they are engaging in their life review. They are knitting together their experiences of youth and adolescence, marriage and family, their careers and other important aspects of their lives into a meaningful whole. Although the life review primarily focuses not he past, it also deals with the present, the near future and end-of-life issues.

Contrary to the popular stereotype of the elderly person as often lonely, most older people have contacts with their children and other family members and have one or two close friends. Some have upwards to 10 friends. The loneliest have no family or no friendships as it is possible to outlive your entire social network.

Losing a mate, health problems, financial problems and a loss of independence can definitely increase oneís sense of loneliness.

Oneís ability to adjust to changing circumstances, faith in God and willingness to try new things can lead to a more positive life adjustment. Remember, itís not how old we are, it is how we are old.

Janine Hall-Pantenburg,

McCook, Neb.

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