The Impact Of World Population Changes
Reduced infant mortality and death rates, the conquering of major diseases, major medical advances, and better overall health care throughout the world have together resulted in increased life expectancy, and thus more elderly persons, especially those of extreme age (eighty-five years and older). In North America, the immigration boom between 1900 and 1920 also added to the number of older persons at the turn of the century. In modern industrialized societies, old age is identified in terms of chronological age. In other societies, onset of old age is more commonly linked with events such as succession to eldership or becoming a grandparent.
The importance of family life to the well-being of the elderly person can be seen in many cultures. In developing countries, the existence of an extended kin network provides regular and frequent contact as an essential part of the traditional welfare (support) system. In developed countries, even with reduced family size, childless marriages, fewer single adult daughters, and increasing numbers of middle-aged women in the work force (all of which have led to decreasing availability and opportunity for children to care directly for aging parents), the first and major resource for elderly persons is still the family: less than 10 percent of older people are ever institutionalized in these countries.
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Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 2Gerontological Nursing - The Beginnings Of Nursing, The Impact Of World Population Changes, The Field Of Aging, The Specialty Of Gerontological Nursing