Old Age

My overall definition of health is a person’s physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual wellness. In addition to simply defining health physiologically, as the presence or absence of disease or abnormal biological changes in the body, health can be defined in terms of spirituality and quality of life. Spirituality meaning ones perspective on their meaning of life and the impact of their values on their overall well-being. Whereas illness refers to the inability to perform functions without limitations, restrictions or impediments, or being unhealthy in body, mind and spirit. Therefore, I am suggesting a person that evaluates their quality of life as good but has a diagnosis of cancer can still be in good health.

My definitions of health and illness were greatly influenced by the determinants of health emphasized by the holistic model of wellness. This model incorporates physiological, psychological, emotional and social determinants to define health and illness. I would have to say that the criteria I used in forming my definitions have predominantly arisen while taking courses here at MSU. Anthropology 370 Culture, Health and Illness and Psychology 320 Health Psychology, are two of the classes that have greatly shaped my beliefs on this subject. I think that if I were to say that the criteria I used came from society or the media then my explanation of illness would heavily emphasize a state of ill health of body and mind, overlooking spirituality entirely.

From the illness activity, old age was a condition that I found hard to categorize as an illness. Personally, I feel old age shouldn’t be labeled as an illness. Many elderly are in good health physically, without disease or infections, and don’t experience any diseases associated with old age including mental illnesses. Therefore, if a person of old age has no limitations or impediments placed on them and can assess their quality of life as good, then old age shouldn’t be defined as an illness.

I believe that poverty can be labeled as an illness. There is a social stigma that is attached to poor people that can negatively impact social wellness. Poverty stricken people may also feel ashamed of their situation damaging their mental and emotional health. Additionally, a person financially challenged may not have the resources to receive medical treatment resulting in poor health. All of these can be reasons for a person to not value themselves as having a good quality life and is why I believe poverty could be an illness.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. AnnMarie Maniaci says:

    I agree with you in not labeling old age itself as an illness. With old age comes the higher probability of attaining many certain illnesses, but old age without such impediments should not be called a disease or illness.
    In fact, in Asia, someone of old age is looked up to with respect. An old person is considered to be very wise and sensible, rather than looked down at as an invalid who can no longer fend for him or herself, which we unfortunately see a lot of in the United States. In Western society, we view respect as something that must be earned, but in Asia, respect is automatically given to someone old in age. As a part of all cultures all across Asia, a person who is older in age will automatically get promoted before someone who is younger. Arguing with teachers, parents, and all other superiors is not tolerated. In Western culture, we believe more in the freedom of speech and being able to speak out for our beliefs and values, even if it is to someone who is considered to be a superior. Unfortunately, the health care and services for the elderly in Asian countries are insufficient to support the vast aging population. Therefore, while they are treated with much more respect compared to Western cultures, they are not given the funds to treat any illnesses that inevitably come with old age.

  2. AnnMarie Maniaci says:

    I agree with you in not labeling old age itself as an illness. With old age comes the higher probability of attaining many certain illnesses, but old age without such impediments should not be called a disease or illness.
    In fact, in Asia, someone of old age is looked up to with respect. An old person is considered to be very wise and sensible, rather than looked down at as an invalid who can no longer fend for him or herself, which we unfortunately see a lot of in the United States. In Western society, we view respect as something that must be earned, but in Asia, respect is automatically given to someone old in age. As a part of all cultures all across Asia, a person who is older in age will automatically get promoted before someone who is younger. Arguing with teachers, parents, and all other superiors is not tolerated. In Western culture, we believe more in the freedom of speech and being able to speak out for our beliefs and values, even if it is to someone who is considered to be a superior. Unfortunately, the health care and services for the elderly in Asian countries are insufficient to support the vast aging population. Therefore, while they are treated with much more respect compared to Western cultures, they are not given the funds to treat any illnesses that inevitably come with old age.

    Morena, Elle. “Asian and Western Culture.” Accessed July 6, 2014. http://www.lifepaths360.com/index.php/asian-and- western-culture-14540/.

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