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

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

EIGHT
Looking for Meaning in a Life's Experience
Robert Morris

EDITORS' INTRODUCTION When we asked Bob Morris to provide this chapter, he was in his late eighties. Although still vigorous, and still contributing to the field of social policy, he was at the farther edge of the Third Age.

As we write this introduction, it has been three years since Bob submitted it and four years since we asked him to write it. His life has been affected by loss and by the inroads of time. He is in the midst of passage from the Third Age. Nevertheless he pursues his work on the meaning of aging and the societal response to the aging demographics.

Two years after he submitted this chapter, Bob sustained the severe blow of his wife's death. In the chapter, Bob talks about Sara's need for him: he cooked her meals, helped her dress, helped her in and out of her wheelchair. She needed his help ever more often. Bob found that his wife's need for him and his love for her gave him an ongoing sense of purpose.

When his wife died Bob lost the person who had been his companion for fifty-nine years. Despite his grief, Bob kept on meeting with his colleagues, and he maintained his active and productive professional life. He regularly traveled between Baltimore, where he lived, and Boston, where he had university affiliations.

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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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