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Aging and Life Course

Aging and Life Course Free Essay Sample

Abstract

Everyone has different thoughts regarding aging and the quality of life that old people have when they turn 65. However, the quality of life of the elderly is more individualistic and can only be influenced by the kind of lifestyle they had from their childhood to adulthood (Quadagno, 2015). As there are a lot of factors effecting one’s old age it is inappropriate to make inferences regarding who they are or the kind of life that they are living. The most significant ones include social contacts, state of health, and material circumstances. In order to fully understand the process of aging and the kind of life that the elderly have or what they feel at that particular age, I have decided to interview my grandfather. As a result, I have got various information that has turned out to be significant for my study. The interview took a period of three days because my grandfather is 82 years old, thus, fatigue issues played a crucial role determining the amount of time I had to spend talking to him. I acted like I did not know him well for the sake of the research to be able to acquire as much objective information from him as possible. Some of the aspects of the discussion comprised his family origin, education and work history, family life, social factors such as spiritual issues and life themes, and also retirement.

Aging and Life Course

Introduction

People always come into our lives and, within a short period, they end up passing away without us getting to know much about them. Most individuals have grandfathers or some old person who they look up to or admire. Some of the elderly people are living a perfect lifestyle enjoying their retirement and having quality time in their homes as they see their grandchildren and great grandchildren grow. However, there are those who are not lucky; some end up in institutions where they are taken care of because their families are not present to look after them or because of their deteriorating health. However, regardless of which kind of lifestyle an old person leads, there are several factors that people need to look into because they have probably contributed to it. Not only the genetic makeup influences people’s lives but also cultural heritage, family traditions, customs and even beliefs play an important role in old age (Quadagno, 2015). After interviewing my grandfather, I have come to the realization that the course of life and the lifestyle that one has are significant and influence an individual as he/she grows older. In particular, such elements as relationships, cultural setting, social factors, education, retirement, and love play a big part.

Birth and Family of Origin

My grandfather is known as Gavin Smith, and he was born in the year 1934, a period when the First World War just ended, and there was still great tension in the nation. It was good to learn that his family was intact, and the war did not affect them in any way. It meant that he spent the early years in a family that was united. However, things changed in 1939 when he was just five years old as it was the time when the Second World War began. According to Garvin, they had to look for a safe place which affected the circumstances in which he grew up. They had to move from one place to another which also influenced his education and peace of mind especially considering the presence of war all around them. Yet, the support of his parents played an important role in keeping him sane and confident in life which clearly shows that our parents can have a strong impact on us and our lives. Speaking about my grandfather, they ensured that he was fully aware of what was going on around him and also understood the situation at that particular time. This helped him learn who to trust and shaped who he turned out to be as an adult. According to Gavin, some of the stories that he was told about his childhood told that he was a young boy full of courage who deeply believed and had much confidence in his parents. These stories enabled him to realize his strong personality as an adult and an old man. He was informed that the trait of bravery was something which he had inherited from his grandfather who died while fighting in the First World War. Gavin never got a chance to meet him but through the stories his grandmother told him, it became clear that he his grandpa was a great man who was full of courage and had a heart of gold that induced him to help others.

The Impact of Cultural Settings and Traditions

One’s cultural heritage, customs, family beliefs and traditions have a strong impact on the formation of the personality. According to Gavin, his parents were both from America which might have contributed to their desire to work hard which is a part of the American culture and a trait that the majority of the USA citizens possess. His great grandfather was from Australia and migrated to the US in search of a better pasture. Gavin’s Australian roots have not influenced him in any way because he knows little about them. He told me that his parents including him never got a chance to go to Australia to visit their family. They were therefore brought up in American lifestyle which they can perfectly identify themselves with.

Additionally, my grandfather is a Christian which has influenced his beliefs about life and the right ways to live. It is the same religious views regarding morality that he has instilled into his children as well. Undoubtedly, his family influenced him with regard to his faith. His father and grandfather were Christians, and his grandmother was a missionary.

My grandpa’s family was different from other families especially when speaking about the morality. Unlike other children who grew up in the US, Gavin and his siblings were different. They never used to go out; instead, they got involved into church and community projects as a way to impact people positively. This made their neighbors consider their lifestyle boring. Some of the life lessons that have guided him through life are standing up for what is right and leading a positive life that would bring changes to the society. Another thing that Gavin has learnt from his grandparents is the significance of hard work which is something that his grandmother has instilled in him. Some of the things that are still important to him today are personal achievements and independence. He also values respect and social harmony as a way to live in a society which is peaceful and results in individual growth.

Social Factors

People’s experience of the world around them can greatly impact on who they become later in life. According to Gavin, he felt that the society helped in nurturing him and encouraged him as a child. Having grown up at a period when the world was at war, one thing that kept his family and the society in general alive was the unity and the faith they had for a change and better tomorrow. This helped them not to stop and enabled to watch each other’s backs. It has already been mentioned that Gavin grew up in a family with strong morals thus getting along with family members was not a problem. They were tight together as a family, and he had perfect relationships with his parents and siblings. Nevertheless, he experienced some struggles as a child especially the constant war within the society which left him confused. Yet, despite the fact that his childhood was filled with war from the outside forces, he still had a happy life because of the support from the family. The most significant event in his life up to the time he was 12 years old was family gatherings during holiday periods when they all could come together to celebrate. He has recalled all the fun that he had on such occasions when he would go out with family and church members.

When Gavin grew older and reached the teenage years, he felt some social pressure as his strong family values made his peers consider him as ignorant and look down upon him. Although the pressure was too strong, he managed to deal with it through his deep Christian faith. Another event that has influenced my grandfather was his first experience leaving home that was good and, at the same time, horrible because of the separation. Some of the social pressures he had to experience as an adult were dealing with work issues and also raising his own children to be as noble as him.

As for the people who have had some impact on Gavin, one should mention his friends who were musicians, some of the army commanders that his grandfather worked with and also business leaders from his work. However, the church and parents have influenced him most because they have guided him throughout his life; they are actually his heroes because they have molded him into the man he is today.

Education

There are various forms of education that people get in life; there is knowledge we receive at school and the one we acquire at home and in the community at large. It is important as it makes us who we are as individuals.

Attending school was a privilege for Gavin because of the period when he was raised. Going there was not easy but in one way or another he managed to do it. His early school years were not good because of the bulling and also pressure from the society. However, the school teachers contributed to making the educational experience wonderful. He developed a strong bond with their Literature teacher because Gavin performed well in class. The best memories he has about school are the ones of graduation from one level and moving on to another while his worst experience is having been bullied by some older students in high school. The accomplishment he is most proud of is having topped his class which enabled him to go to the college. One of the most remarkable things that he has learned from college is being able to get along with people from various cultures.

Moreover, Gavin has learnt a few important lessons in life outside the classroom. In particular, the has got the feel of the ways in which people can live in unity regardless of the fact that they come from different backgrounds and lead dissimilar lifestyles. According to my grandfather, education changes the ways in which people think and view life because it impacts them with the right kind of knowledge.

Love, Work and Retirement

Gavin is married to a woman whom he has loved since he was 20 years old. He has told that their first date was remarkable, and after six months of going out, they decided to get married. Marriage has been one of his main achievements because it has made him have his own family and also has been the main source of his strength in some negative situations. One can say that his marriage has been perfect because he and his wife are of the same faith and have almost similar beliefs and values concerning life. My grandmother has given birth to four children, two daughters and two sons, who are all working now. It is worth stating that all of them keep the family values and follow Christian principles which is something that Gavin considers as a dream come true. His hopes as he entered adulthood were to have a family and children who would carry his name and also keep his lineage going. After becoming a parent, he has learnt the aspects of adulthood connected with the responsibilities that come with it. He had to be a father to his children and a husband to his wife while at the same time ensure that his mother was doing well back in the countryside. His work enabled him to handle all these challenges well and be able to provide for his family.

According to Gavin, he anticipated retirement and had plans for it. While retiring from work, he felt some sort of satisfaction having achieved everything that he had wanted. He already had a place he could call home, and his children were already married and working meaning he had fewer financial demands. One thing he misses about his work is contributing positively towards the economy and the society. He is, however, satisfied with his life now, and all he does back in the countryside is farming. The best part of this period of life for him is the fact that he has free time to rest and less pressure to do with work. The worst part of it is contributing less to the society and economy. He also loves to spend most of the time with his grandchildren especially when they come over during the holiday periods. Gavin hopes to instill discipline and good virtues into them hoping that it will help them to grow up in an upright manner.

Closure

Gavin is still a strong man with a lot of hopes and dreams which he hopes to see come true before he dies. He is still optimistic and believes that he has more years to live. Right now he feels satisfied with the kind of life he has lived considering himself lucky. He has said to me that he would entitle his life story as ‘Life of a Warrior or a Champion.’ He believes that he has provided a fair picture of himself and outlined everything which has made him a person he is at the moment. His feelings about the interview are positive because it has reminded him of his past and also where he comes from as a child, his adulthood and old age.

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