Anda di halaman 1dari 5

PSYCHOLOGICAL CHANGES OF OLDER PERSON The aging process brings change.

During our lifetime, many individual changes we undergo are psychological. Three particularly relevant areas of psychological change are: information processing personality the myth of senility.

INFORMATION PROCESSING Reaction Time REACTION TIME INCREASES WITH AGE. Reasons for this are difficult to isolate. The increases could be caused by a slowing of perception, transmission to the brain, decoding and recoding in the brain, transmission to the appropriate responding mechanism, an/or the mecanism of the response itself. When time is a factor, age differences appear. This change might affect products in which rapid responses are required in order to accomplish a task (e.g., using an electric food processor). Most older persons need a longer period of time to react. Reaction time is also correlated with the complexity of the task (e.g., operating a pushbutton door lock). If both age and complexity increase, then behavior becomes less efficient. Since so many of today's routine activities are both complex and require rapid resposes, these factors may make the tasks harder for older people. If physical and/or health problems are not present, adaptation and practice offset age-related decrements. Experience and usage can negate some reaction time loss. For example, on an assembly line, most older workers are able to keep production quotas because they are constantly utilizing skills, experiences, and behaviors which have been developed over the years. Intelligence INTELLIGENCE ENDURES. It does not appear to change with age until quite late in the life span. Decrements that do appear seem to be more a factor of motivation, vocabulary, contemporary skills, and speed than they are a factor of age-related loss. For example, old people may not be as highly motivated as younger people when taking tests. Older groups are usually at a disadvantage with younger groups when level of formal education and recency of contact with a testing environment are considered. In general, speed decreases as age increases, and since most intelligence test are timed, this could affect overall scores. The vocabulary of older people is frequently limited and less contemporary than that of younger persons. This is not due to lack of intelligence, but rather to two educational differencesfewer years of formal education and fewer recent classroom experiences, which would expose tthe person to a situation that would build a more cntemporary vocabulary.

Designers need to take this vocabularly issue into account when designing complex tasks such as setting the timing sequence on appliances. Learning AGE HAS LITTLE AFFECT ON LEARNING. It may take longer for an older person to learn something, but this illustrates, once again, that speed rather than ability differentiates older from younger learners. Designers should note that for older people, retention is greatest for things which are both seen and heard (redundant cuing). Retention is next greatest for things which are heard, and lowest for things which are seen. Designers may help older people by breaking complex tasks into simple, sequential sub-tasks, thus making learning easier. Memory Memory changes that accompany the aging process have a definite pattern. As people age, they tend to have more and more difficulty with short-term recall whereas long-term recall remains much more inact. Reasons for this are unclear. It may be due to accumulated loss of neurons in the brain, but this is currently subject to debate. Some researchers believe that social factors are responsible for memory loss, since the past, for many persons, may have been much more pleasant than the present. However, there is no general agreement in this matter either. The programming of task sequences, such as found in pre-dialing features on many telephones, begins to address the problem of short-term recall. Problem-Solving PROBLEM-SOLVING TECHNIQUES DIFFER WITH AGE. As age increases, we tend to solve problems differently from younger persons, Older people are much more reluctant to use trialand-error beaviors than are younger people. Prior to attempting a solution, most older people prefer to take time to "think through" the situation. Younger people are prone to use "trial and error" more quickly and more frequently. And while our reaction time increases with age and correlates with the comp[exity of a task, this increase is only measured in miliseconds.. This behvior could affect the manner in which older Americans use mechanical devices. Clear, easy-to-follow directions go a long way to encourage trial and error behavior and avoid intimidating older people. PERSONALITY Aging does not affect us as a person our personality remains fairly constant throughout our lifespan. Not only do we retain our individual differences, these differences become even more pronounced as we get older.

As we age, we generally become more and more like the person we were in our youth; a placid youngster becomes a more placid older person, a talkative teenager becomes a talkative older person, and a stubborn youngster carries the trait of stubbernness into old age. Still, wide variations have been observed, and it's difficult to make accurate predictions in this area. Moreover, most people assume that when you get old it is "natural" to become forgetful and to lose contact with reality. This simply is not true. While we may experience some difficulty with short-term memory as we get older, our long-term memory generally remains sound. Except for gradual changes in our physical appearance and experiencing more physical problems, being "old" feels no different from how we feel now or when we were young. In reality, an old person is a young person who has just lived longer.

SOCIAL FACTORS SOCIETY IS CREATED FROM A CONSENSUS OF INDIVIDUALS. These individuals, in turn, are influenced by the society in which they live. Thus, both Individuals and groups define and re-define our sense of self as we develop and as society changes. And society's view of "growing old" or being "old" is no exception to this process. Our contemporary society is, in part, a product of the past. Past and present factors shape the society of tomorrow. Examining the social factors of today is similar to viewing a single frame of a motion picture. Today's frame is a product of yesterday, but which now includes the largest number and percentage of older persons than ever beforemore people age 65 and over are living today than have ever lived previously in all of recorded history. These large numbers of older persons are a new phenomenon. Societies, world wide, are only beginning to learn how to accomodate age-related changes. To confound matters, contemporary society continues to feel the escalating effects of an aging baby-boom generation. As a result of today's youth orientation and the increassed number of older persons, three issues present themselves. Gerontologists have named them agesim, gerontophobia, and retirement. Ageism AGEISM REFERS TO DISCRIMINATION BASED ON AGE. This attitude arises because of agerelated changes in appearance, in beliefs, and in other behaviorsthose characteristics which supposedly make older persons "different." Agesim is seen in many contexts. It is insidious. It is also present in financial matters and employment. It is demonstrated by our immediate asumption that slow drivers must be old. What's more, many older Americans, regardless of economic circumstances, find it extremely difficult to obtain loans, even for modest amoounts.

Finally, the need for legal protection as provided by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (in effect for those age 40 and above) reflects the extent to which ageism permeates society. Gerontophobia GERONTOPHOBIA IS THE FEAR OF OLD AGE, especially of growing old. This fear is a by-product of the high value contemporary society places on youth and productivity. It touches all facets of life, from physical appearance to the fear of death. Since the dawn of human history people have sought the secret of immortality. We still search for that secret potion that will maintain our youth and keep us from aging. In his book, Age Wave, Ken Dychtwald identifies seven markers that can induce our phobia: If If If If If If If young is good, then old is bad the young have it all, the old are losing it the young are creative, the old are dull the young are beautiful, then the old are unattractive the young are stimulating, then the old are boring the young are full of passion, then the old are beyond caring the children are tomorrow, the old represent yesterday

Each of us is constantly bombarded with incentives to to remain young and prolong our lives through medical breakthroughs. Unfortunately, this attitude has been internalized by many people both old and young. But, in the end, each of us will experience the aging process and, unless we die in our early years, we will continually grow older and struggle with the inevitable reality that our end is gradually approaching.

Retirement RETIREMENT IS AN AMBIVALENT CONCEPT. It represents a reward for participation in the labor force. It also represents a mechanism to ensure turnover of the labor force, with younger workers moving into slots vacated by retirees. On the one hand, each succeeding year the concept of retirement receives greater public support and approval as well as a transgenerational transfer of monies via the social secrity system. On the other nand, retirement results in decreased income. It also leaves an older person with what some gerontologists describe as a "roleless role"i.e., no alternative to the role, status, and significance of "employee" has yet evolved. In a work-oriented society, this non-productive status, along with society's youthemphasis, means that older people are at odds with contemporary norms in two resects: productivity and appearance! These factors contribute to the phenomena of agism and gerontophobia. Many of the effects are obvious; others are quite subtle. All of us are guilty of ageism to some degree. Most of us suffer from gerontophobia. At the same time, we all experience the affects of the aging process, and we react to them.

Designers who are aware of and sensitive to these social phenomena are in a better position to advocate the development of accommodating products and environments.

SPIRITUALITY Spiritually is about how we make sense of our past, present and future, whether this is within an organized religion, with a non-religious group, or as an individual. Our spirituality embraces our ideas about who we are and our purpose in life. People of all ages have a spiritual dimension to their life, which can have a major affect on mental health. Spirituality is often focused in particular areas for older people, who may have faced bereavement and the inevitability of death, but who also experience the joy of significant milestones and life events. Many older people strive for reconciliation with others and with God, and for the meaning of their own lives in the context of a greater whole. Support for any of these issues is often available from places of worship such as mosques, churches, synagogues and temples. Most organised religions offer pastoral care services to those of any faith or none.