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

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

NINE
The Search for Meaning in the Later Years:
The Views of a Seventy-Four-Year-Old
Gerontological Social Worker
Rose Dobrof

EIDTORS' INTRODUCTION In this last chapter Rose Dobrof discusses the search for meaning as she has witnessed it in her many years of work with the aged and as she now witnesses it in herself. Evident in her discussion is the increasing salience of this search as the Third Age, with its potential for activity and busyness, fades.

With the ending of the Third Age, questions arise of what one's life was about, what point it had, and how it mattered. What will I leave behind? A possible answer, with which Dobrof was able to comfort a woman in her care, is that one's life will matter to those who continue and that one lives on in their memories.

There are other questions as well, having to do with how well one has used the time of one's life. These bring with them assessments of actions taken and not taken, of responsibilities met and unmet. Some are content with the lives they led; others are unforgiving toward themselves and despair at the impossibility of correcting the past.

Dobrof, as did Moody in an earlier chapter, quotes both Erikson and Becker. The two together suggest both

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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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