Sociology of Aging (2nd Ed.) by Diana K. Harris; 1990; New York: Harper & Row; 510 pages
This work is a straightforward, easy-to-read gerontology text with a heavy emphasis on the sociology of aging. Several features which make the test appealing and easy to read include:
* Cartoons and photographs which highlight the concepts of chronological and biological aging, as well as cultural considerations.
* Selected abridged readings written by scholars of aging to emphasize major points.
* Boxed inserts drawing from journals, newspapers, and books.
Teachers who select this text must recognize that because it was published in 1990, it has several drawbacks including the lack of more timely references. In a relatively short span of time, many of the myths and stereotypes gerontologists have traditionally featured for classroom discussion have lost their salience as more and more successfully aging activists are dispensing with such issues. The text provides little material about dementia in general, and excludes information about multiinfarct dementia and its major underlying risk factors - hypertension and being African American. In general, as the aging population expands, the incidence of dementia escalates. This will have a major impact on family caregivers, long-term care planners, clinicians, policy makers, and the health insurance industry.
Increasing numbers of ethnic minority elderly throughout the world and in the United States offer many avenues for research in order to provide knowledge to individualize approaches to the problems of aging. In addition, the relatively new subacute care model and its link to managed care programs, Medicare and Medicaid, is changing the character of long-term care environments and driving fiscal reconfigurations. It has the potential to affect the quality of life for the frailest elderly receiving care in these facilities.
The text succeeds in providing a broad overview of aging that reflects the knowledge and expertise of the author and her contributors. The text is recommended for college students who take gerontology as a social science elective.