Perceptions On the Elderly

The simplest definition of age is the length of time an organism has lived. Be it an insect, plant, cell, animal, human being or any other living thing each of them have a certain time period to live and this length of time as mentioned earlier is called age. As the organism’s age increases it undergoes certain biological and social physical and physiological changes especially in the case of humans and this process of change is called aging. Today the world has become a global village in which people belong to different societies and culture, follow different religions and belong to different ethnicities and races. Therefore there is no doubt in the fact that the attitudes and behavior of people belonging to different societies and culture are different towards their fellow people. It is due to this that all over the world senior citizens or elderly people are treated differently in the society. The question now arises is what are the factors that influence our perceptions of the elderly in a society?
Firstly people’s sociological perspectives play an important role in their attitudes towards the elderly. For example people who believe in the functionalist perspective consider family and their members as the most important members of the society. Thus these people treat their elderly with respect and kindness for they believe that by protecting their family members they are protecting the society on the whole. Then secondly people who believe in the conflict perspective have a completely opposite view. According to them social change leads to instability and thus older people are a burden on society who shouldn’t be taken care of. These and other sociological perspectives have influenced social behavior since centuries. However the modern day scenario is somewhat different.
Today one of the major factors influencing our perception is religion and ethnicity. People belonging to different religions treat their elders differently and have different family values. For example in Christianity and particularly in the west family bonds are weak and mostly there is a neutral family structure. The elderly people are looked upon as burden on the family and are easily left to spend their last years in old folks home. Whereas muslims and people belonging to the east value family relationships and special care and attention is given to senior citizens.
Lastly in this era of modernization and technological advancement it will be unfair not to mention the role media plays in creating and changing our perception about the elderly. Mostly the media promotes strong family values and encourages good attitudes towards the elderly. However there are certain television dramas and movies that gives negative impression to people about the elderly.
Conclusively it can be said that society is a major factor that influences our roles and defines our behavior.

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