Cross-Cultural Study of the Life Course

Cross-Cultural Study of the Life Course

Cross-Cultural Study of Late Adulthood in the United States and Japan

Late adulthood begins at age 65 years and above. It is deemed to be the final stage of the life processes and is associated with declined physical and cognitive performance.

In 1950 the global population that was 65 years or older was only 5%. However, this population rose to 8% by 2006 and is expected to increase even further to 13% by 2030.

This accelerated growth of the aged population is expected to have an enormous impact on the dependency ratio, especially in the developing countries where the growth is expected to be more rapid.

Aging is both a biological process and a cultural process. Different cultures constitute different practices and attitudes towards late adulthood. These cultural differences impact differently on the experience and the outcome of the elderly during the aging process

Late Adulthood in the United States (US)

The elderly population in the US has been on the rise for the past few decades. In 2013, the elderly population in the US was 44.5 million and was projected to reach 98 million by 2060.

This shows that this population is poised to grow steadily over the years at a rate that surpasses that of the rest of the country’s population. Further, there has been a constant increase in the life expectancy from the birth of the US.

Interestingly, those aged 85years and above have shown the fastest population growth over the last ten years. This rapid growth in the elderly population is associated with technological advancements in the medical field as well as population increased awareness of healthy lifestyles and the benefits of exercise.

Despite the enormous growth in the elderly population in the US, the elders are carried with less regard and respect. The elders are viewed as having contributed all their potentials and as being ready to be dispensed.

Therefore, teenagers are not encouraged to listen to stories and experiences as well as seek history from the seniors in their lives. Further, the elders are left out and no longer live or spend time with the family.

The families are often busy with their lives and thus view the elderly as burdens. Consequently, the elderly are mostly isolated from the society and taken to nursing homes and hospitals where they are they receive the necessary care from geriatric professionals.

Unlike in Japan, the elderly in the United States are left to be independent and to take care of themselves. Thus, it is unlikely for family members to take care of the elderly and when they do, it is considered voluntary.

Though seniors in the US are said to be healthy and happy, they are still victims of stereotyping and prejudice. Aging is usually a shameful experience, and physical signs that come with human aging are regarded with distaste.

The aged are made to believe that they have lost their value and have nothing valuable to contribute to the society. Consequently, people are afraid to be labeled old, and any sign like a gray hair that might suggest that they are growing old is fought with utmost zeal.

Further, old age is associated with the inability to work and move. The aged inevitably lose the virtues of independence, self-reliance, and individualism, which are highly valued in the US.

Further, the US Protestant work ethic holds working as the main value of human being by the society, and one who does not work loses the main value.

Late Adulthood in Japan

Japan is said to have the healthiest culture as well as the highest longevity rates. Longevity in Japan has been attributed to healthy living, such as low-fat diets and plenty of exercises as well as strong community bonds.

Consequently, Japan has the highest percentage of the elderly population in the entire world. In 2014, 25.9% of the entire Japanese population was 65 years or above, and that 12.5% are was at least 75 years of age.

The elderly in Japan contribute to one-fifth of its total population and is expected to reach one-third by the year 2050. This dramatic aging in Japan that results from high life expectancy and sub-replacement fertility is expected to continue.

Therefore, Japan has the best environment and support for the elderly population compared to other nations in the world that may explain the high proportion of these people in the country.

The Japanese culture has value and respect for the elderly. Appreciation for seniors has been cultivated in the families making Japan one of the best places for the elders globally.

Japanese marks their 60th and 70th birthday with big celebrations where the elderly receive gifts and dances from the children. Furthermore, the responsibility for elder care lies firmly on the family.

Japanese families usually have several generations living in one house. This living arrangement makes it possible for close bonding and caring for the seniors in the family.

The Japanese seniors have a high quality of life. Apart from their healthy eating, Japanese have the tendency to continue working up until last days of life.

The elderly will involve in activities such as sports, gardening, taking up an art or learning a new skill. Soon after retiring from their jobs, they pursue hobbies of their interest. Unlike the elderly in the US, Japanese seniors don not lose focus of life even at old age.

Japan utilizes the technology to improve the quality of life of the elderly. The country has come up with senior-friendly products such as Smartphones and smart cranes made specifically for older adults.

This Smartphone has an interface with bigger icon and font sizes and displays basic apps for simplicity. The smart cranes have a navigation system that enables people to track the user’s whereabouts.

Further, Japan also has shopping centers designed specifically for the aged. This means that the elderly can remain independent and can easily get everything from one place. Additionally, the numbers on price tags are large enough to make reading easier.

Japanese have family support systems that enhance family care for the elderly, unlike in the United States where care of the elderly is left to hospitals and nursing homes.

Japan has a credit system that recognizes the efforts of people who support the elderly by awarding them with tickets, which can be used to buy services by the seniors.

This is beneficial to the children who are away from home and cannot take care of their parents. Such children can send home their tickets, which help their parents receive care from other people who are not family members. Therefore, the older population in the country is more advantaged than that in the US and many other nations in the world.

The elderly people forms a significant proportion of the global population. However, this proportion is expected to increase enormously going by the trend observed in the last few decades. Different cultures all over the world have different perspectives on the aging and end of life.

Those that value old age respect and empower the elderly while those that demean the old age look down upon the aged. Therefore, these perspectives impact either positively or negatively to older persons and the aging process.

The western cultures are commonly known to demean the aged with stereotypes and prejudices. However, this is opposite with the Asians who have much respect for the seniors in the society.