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"Making life better"


 Because I am sure you are a little tired by this point in the course of the same format -- you read a chapter and some web pages, follow some links and take a quiz --- this page is a little different.

Pick two people you know well (one of them could be yourself) and predict which type of personality you think will describe their aging patterns. For example, I think I will end up the reorganizer type. My sister described me in those exact terms when I was in my twenties.

"Geez, as soon as you finish one goal that would satisfy most people for life, you start in on another. You win the world championships and then you start on a Ph.D."

So, I guess I will probably be the same type of person twenty years from now. Similarly, I can predict that my husband will be the disengaged type. If you look at his web page, you can see that the man is well on his own way to pursuing his own interests already!

Erikson, disengagement theorists and role exit theorists tend to take a dim view of late adulthood. To me, as well as to many authors who have published critiques of these perspectives, it all seems to view old age's major developmental task as getting ready to die. We face the life we have lived with integrity, rather than despair, accept the decisions we have made, shift attention from the outer world to our own feelings and thoughts. Now, for me, that all just sounds like a fate worse than death. That, like the types discussed above, may just be a personality difference. When I get tuned into my innermost thoughts, they are usually something like, "Gee, I am hungry, I wonder if the oysters at the Fish Co. are any good tonight."

Similarly, I was quite surprised to read that 75% of men and more than 80% of women retiring on social security take early retirement. I was not surprised to see that if people went back to work, they tended to do it soon after retirement or not at all. My (late) husband retired when we moved to North Dakota. He was going to go huntin', fishin', fourwheelin' and a bunch of that other guy stuff. He did that for a few months and then he went back to work at Sioux Manufacturing. He concluded that the ideal length of time for retirement was about six week.

How happy do you think you will be at retirement? Do you intend to retire early, or will they have to drag you kicking and screaming from the building and change the lock on your office door? Why do you think that? Which of the theories of aging apply most to you? Do you think you will be disengaged and fire up that rocking chair, with the social exchange theorists convince you of your lowered economic worth? Or does some other theory better describe you, and, if so, which is it? (Yes, probably NO theory perfectly describes anyone, but which comes closest?)


Who do you think you will have social contacts with when you are older? Siblings? A spouse? Your adult children? How frequent do you think those contacts will be? Are there some people or groups of people that you expect will be more important to you as you age? For example, do you think you will see your children less and your friends more? What do you suppose your marriage will be like? Will you quit having sex and just complain about your problems with irregularity? Do you think your spouse, children and other relatives will be around more than you want them, too much, or just the right amount? How much, or little, social interaction are you comfortable with? What does the research on social interaction say about your anticipated view of aging? Do you fit right in with the typical older adult or are you a weirdo?

Go to the last page, on death

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