Challenges of the Third Age: Meaning and Purpose in Later Life

By Robert S. Weiss; Scott A. Bass | Go to book overview

THREE
The Changing Meaning of Aging
Harry R. Moody

EDITORS' INTRODUCTION Moody explores the meaning that is attributed to aging by the people who speak for our society. Drawing on best-seller lists of popular and professional books, Moody reviews for us the changing opinions of the postwar years. In the years immediately following World War II, when the focus of the nation was on a return to normalcy, the aged were seen as a group vulnerable to disability and as a social problem. But then the historical situation changed. In the late sixties and early seventies the institutions of the society came into question. It was a time of, in Moody's terms, public pessimism and private optimism. Community became less important than self-realization. In the public mind the aged were an interest group whose claims were competitive with the claims of other interest groups, including children. But then, in another shift, selfrealization came to be defined in less material terms. New models appeared for those in later life that emphasized their potential for continued development and activity. A good many books celebrated the vitality of aged individuals who directed enterprises, traveled, wrote, and painted. Some authors recommended spiritual journeying. This seems to be where we now are.

After telling this story Moody steps back and asks why we have not settled on a stable image of aging and the aged. His answer, it would seem, is that aging has no

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Challenges of the Third Age: Meaning and Purpose in Later Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Contributors vii
  • Challenges of the Third Age *
  • Introduction 3
  • One - Holding onto Meaning through the Life Cycle 13
  • References *
  • Two - The Third Age 29
  • References *
  • Three - The Changing Meaning of Aging 41
  • References *
  • Four - Social Sources of Meaning in Later Life 55
  • References *
  • Five - Aging, Place, and Meaning in the Face of Changing Circumstances 81
  • Reference 107
  • Six - Bringers of Allah: The Druse Elders 115
  • References 136
  • Seven - Aging, Intimate Relationships, and Life Story among Gay Men 137
  • References *
  • Eight - Looking for Meaning in a Life's Experience 161
  • Nine - The Search for Meaning in the Later Years: The Views of a Seventy-Four-Year-Old Gerontological Social Worker 173
  • References *
  • Epilogue - Concluding Note on Meaning and the Possibility of Productive Aging 189
  • References *
  • Index 199
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