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Significant parameters of cross-cultural aging

Institute Internationale de Sociologie

Author: Nagle, J. S.
Type: Journal Article
Year: 1984


A cross-cultural examination of aging & the complexity of cultural variables affecting it. Although Koty, in 1933, distinguished objective & subjective cultural variables having a negative impact on the elderly, more recent research has focused on variables of positive impact. Cowgill & Holmes (1972) conducted research leading to propositions about variables favoring a higher status for older people. Cowgill later (1974) indicated an inverse relationship with modernization, but affirmed that personal values, religion, & political & economic structures can mitigate the negative impact of modernization on the elderly. Various modern contexts reveal cultural variables conducive to positive elderly status; eg, Great Britain's New Towns have successfully integrated the aged into the community. Macrolevel dedication regarding welfare state responsibilities has been important in this regard; such towns have not served the elderly well in the US, where private developers cater to the affluent society. Also in contrast to the U.S., the Scandinavian countries have provided extensive & universal health services for people of all ages. However, younger Scandinavians hold negative stereotypes regarding their elders, & Norwegian elderly have reported (Beverfeld, 1980) feelings of uselessness, isolation, & loneliness. In this same framework, the influence of cultural variables on the likelihood of elderly remaining longer in nursing homes is examined, a likelihood greater in the U.S. than in many other industrialized countries, primarily due to the medical rather than human emphasis of health care. In Scotland, on the other hand, the nursing home atmosphere is stimulating, respectful, & humane. Governments must also consider & respect cultural differences within their countries if people of all ethnic & racial groups are to be served adequately & justly. There is still much to be learned about cultural variables conducive to the positive status of the elderly, in both traditional & industrialized societies.

Further Details

Accession Number: 23.5.03
Keywords: older, international
Reads: 177