Aging in Mexican/Mexican-American Culture
Everyone is ever wondering how life will be as their age increases. The reason given for this is the change that comes with ageing. It goes from independence, self-control to catering for other family members and later on with time, the vice versa takes shape as people lapse into old age. The once dependent begin to rely on assistance in almost all their activities. Due to this ageing phobia, perceptions and opinions result to stereotyping, dislike and tendencies by different age brackets to despise the fact that in deed they are too growing towards eldership. They tend to discriminate the whole aspect brought out as a result of increment in age because of the word around: evaluating people’s capability on the basis of their age facilitates the terminology ageism. Mexican culture has seen the latter affect different sectors of economy, welfare and living. Usually, the old are side lined or even ignored in making key decisions because of their age. They are viewed as slow and inactive hence inefficient and incompetence. The younger generations label the old using humorous words and phrases, and sometimes referring to them in provoking words like fuddy-duddy. This demeanor implies lack of respect and appreciation of what they have achieved till their end of activeness.
In trying to refer to the old, several words have seen acceptance but incase it turns out inappropriate slang terms become applicable. In this way, the elderly will not recognize what term is used in their reference. Most of the old fraternity in pure Mexican context is not up beat with new speaking modes. On the other hand, the Mexican-American has shown interest in these current speech formations hence it’s easier for them to understand the style youth use. Old age, elderly and senior citizens are all terms used when a person’s age hits, is near or has surpassed life expectancy. A senior citizen is a widespread name of the grandpas and grandmas that is mostly used in both the Mexican /Mexican-American context when they are referring to each other. They relate to one another by respecting the oldest among them. Family members on their part carry out themselves in nobility to satisfy their grandparent although, shouting/overtones like the elderly or people at old age are commonly used by the young generation. The eldest, who are seen to be almost passing away are given maximum respect at all cost. A majority of Mexican population is not comfortable with this ageism matter. They feel under stipulated when viewed in basis of their age, whether they are averagely aged or very old. However, people nearing the average lifespan are comfortable with the latter, because most believe that the stages of old age is associated with maturity, self-sufficiency and responsibility. Elderly people in Mexican culture retain their undisputed status at old age by maintaining responsibility in talk and behavior. (Varley A. and M. Blasco, 2000)
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Feminization of ageing is a terminology when referring to the norm of finding most women at old age categorizing themselves in social groups. As it is globally, Mexico’s life expectancy for women is higher compared to that of men. Mexican women outlive men by seven years on average. In Mexico, for every 1000 women who are above the age of 60, there are about 657 male counterparts above that age limit. Feminization is more pronounced in Mexican-Americans due to interaction with other women of diverse origin.
As the old show proneness to hard living standards, there are a number of special needs that ought to be fulfilled for them or on their behalf and they entail wants that are unique to these senior citizens. Some of them include; assisted living, day care, long term care, home care among others. The elderly also require planned arrangements for medical services, good healthy practices and dental care (Varley A. and M. Blasco, 2000). In centers that run programs for assisted living, residents incapacitated by illness or recuperation from surgical operation remain in their premise, residence or are allowed to enroll to rehabilitation institutions where their special needs can be met. Extremely old persons at some point may require wheelchairs to facilitate easy movement as the legs weaken and loss of strength occurs. Therefore, new plans in surrounding and buildings should be designed or incorporated in a way that accommodates the use of wheel chairs. Mexican government has done considerable efforts on this. Mexican old age population has also been faced with challenges associated with mental disabilities; therefore the affected citizens need special medical care and attention. Due to old age, bones of the elderly become weak and thus resulting to fragile body structures and wearing: their health hence is at risk/stake. Arrangements for special meals that would aid meeting their energy requirements should be reincorporated. Meals rich in protein, that give nutrients for body growth and repair of their body tissues, abundant vitamins for protection from diseases hence healthy living and plenty of mineral salts like Calcium for strong bones and Magnesium for healthy blood. Ageing people should avoid foodstuffs with too much cholesterol like fatty-meat, alcohol and excess salt/sugar since they turn out to be risky to their health. Mexican health ministry has been trying its best in the latter and it has bore fruits (Bialik, 1992)
Since the elderly or rather the senior citizens are no longer working and depend most on pension funds saved during their active tenure, most of them spend what they had reserved. Mexican social security fund is concerned with the issue, they safe-keep the resources and money which they later on give to beneficiaries. This in turn, facilitates availability of finances which then reduces stress related to pension payment. More arrangements in favor of the elderly should be established to ensure that their needs are catered for, economically, financially and spiritually. The authorities should consider enrolling the elderly in social welfare programs like training, sporting and food stamps (Rodriguez, 2003)
The aged in Mexico like everybody else have their own daily living activities which they normally do for life continuity and better living standards. They include; self care and hygiene like getting food and feeding, bathing, dressing and grooming. The elderly also have normal home workloads, home making and leisure activities. As they grow older, they find it difficult to walk around, carry things or even perform simple tasks and chores. Other challenges in our senior citizens are poor eye sight, this therefore asks of assistance to eat, dress, bath and even walk. This is a headache to most people of Mexican origin. People, who are not lucky to have someone to cater for them, reduce their rates bathing as a result. Native Mexican older bracket feel that fashion no longer matters, fashion loses meaning and so like to maintain very simple dressing mode. The instrumental activities of daily living such as being selective of care givers, use of communication gadgets, management of finances, ability to maintain and manage personal health, safety precautions and responses to emergency usually diminish as a person’s age progresses. Survey on this lot indicates financial decisions do not necessarily change, it is the last activity they stop doing.
The sign of old age in women comes on the onset of menopause which implies diminished sexual drive and activity. Most women find it difficult to come in terms with this condition. In turn, not only in Mexico but globally, come out in public confessing the use of aphrodisiac methods to artificially regain their sex drives, Men at older age face similar challenges and too apply the latter. However, women in old age face competition from young sexually active women, as a result, they tend to inhabit distinct new responsibilities in the society. Age topples men’s strength, aggressiveness and with time, the elderly cannot apply force upon the young generation, they plead more often. (Cutler, David M, 2002). With good knowledge of this, adults in traditional set up have for a long time allowed those who attain the advanced age to resign from restless search for power and prestige. When they can no longer fulfill the responsibilities of adulthood, they are allowed to lay aside their burdens and join the old age their cultures have prepared for them. Safe within the embrace of their culture, the elderly are free to transmit the fullness of the culture to the new up coming generation as they wait to die. To adapt to the challenges associated with old age, the older people also alter their gait to accommodate real change in strength, sensation, movement, endurance and quick response to environmental stimuli (Barrientos, 2007p.80). The shuffling standing and walking posture keeps the feet close to the ground and maintains maximum input from sensors of position. To improve balance, the stance is usually widened. They also reduce the number of steps/strides they make per minute so that there is change in endurance and an allowance for more reaction time.
To have a successful ageing life time, you have to have friends to make your old moments happy (Sally, 2005, p.92). Partners with each others spouse still alive, children, and bridge partner or in church fellowship are very important for social aspect of health and towards ageing well. Another aspect involves stopping some habits for the good. Smoking can lead to lung cancers and eventually to a very painful aging period it then becomes important to do away with. (J M Eric and Stuart P. 2005)Keeping spiritual values and beliefs at old age is very good because it helps in establishing a close relationship with God, Mexico’s church attendance has older people the highest percentage compared to the other ages. With respect to the human nature, most are basically good at heart and kind. It is not that they were born to be good but at old age, life has taught them to be good because most of them understand the costs of extending bad and undesirable behaviors from young age to old age. Mexico has both good and evil people. It is possible to change bad people to good people through proper guidance. Kluckholn believe that evil people are not trust worthy and so, need to be controlled. Good people are born at heart, while a mixed of both happens to be existent; scrutiny remains the way out towards knowing who is who. People are actually subordinate to nature while life’s determined by fate. In Mexico it is apparent that there exist these varieties of people. Fate determines whether one will stay alive up to old age or one will die along the way. (Kluckholn, 1974)
Harmonizing human life with nature is very important. When environment has been disturbed, the worst effects are manifested to very young and the aged people. New diseases crop up and the old are very vulnerable. At old age, fewer people have the will to conquer the nature and simply leave this mandate to the youth. Concerning time sense, history has taught people that it is cultural to give way when you have grown old. Mexicans are passing cultural information to young generations to ensure infinite continuity of culture. It is not enough just to “be”. It is essential to be actively involved in activities and to be adventurous because it brings refreshment at old age and the rewards for this is improved physical health. While ageing is a natural process, little can be done about. Beliefs that exercises can help improve on the physical remain true but they do not change the fact that one is growing old. Less Mexicans on route to old age perform the latter.
Mexicans are empirical to the current trend of American demographic data turning ‘vertical’. This has been facilitated by family planning techniques where by new generation sizes are becoming lean with time. Given that several factors affect survival of humanity, there are more risks to life and vulnerability of most children. It is uncertain that they will attain senior citizenry. Facts indicate that only one out six is capable to. This makes the population even more vertical with time as more risks to life emerge.
Family member interactions are identifiable in the maintenance of close relations. Respectful communication between the elderly, their siblings is also key. (WHO, 2008) There is Great Corporation in executing activities and older people are consulted before major decisions are executed. The old also step in resolving conflicts that arise between warring gangs in Mexico. This has led to mutuality potently, that is one can not be without the other. Despite their condition, the aged are not ignored in daily activities though they are not involved in heavy duties. Community shows responsibility in taking care of the young children and the old. Today people are informed and respond very fast to illnesses. Once they observe any disease symptoms among themselves, they take relevant precautions, medicines and are very vigilant in case of any complications related to the disease. Although a majority of Mexican remains literate, they are traditionally spiritually inclined. Very few aged people watch television since their eye sight fails them miserably. (Frausto 1994)
Most aged people in Mexico loose body weight, health status, beauty perspectives and are also faced with problems of weaknesses like back aches. As a result many use walking sticks for support and movement. Most have problems in hearing and sight and so they are aided by contact lens. Mexican recent history revealed complications of major internal organs with failure being the most common. A number of aged females tend to be forgetful and demonstrated low memory capacity and other symptoms of age related disorders such as dementia. Other ageing signs are wrinkles, spotted skin, a change in the color of the hair to white or grey, reduced ability to hear, reduced reaction time, poor memory and slowed ability to think and make decisions. All physical, mental health and nutritional states of the Mexican are currently being worked on and it is true to state that they are doing a great job
Although there is a considerate food security in Mexico, most elderly people have poor nutritional state. Due to their limited preference, they like traditional foodstuffs but tend to dislike commercially produced, except for a few cases. This is attributed to beliefs, preferences, the costs and tastes. There is no exact delineation of middle age and old age because of different perspectives by various Mexican communities. The title, elderly comes if one has grand children, he/she has retired or when they become less active (AoA (2008). In Mexican and Mexican-American cultures one is termed old if they have attained the age of sixty five years: or is legally recognized as a beneficiary of retirement packages. Anybody above this age therefore, can be referred-senior citizen.
Enculturation is a process whereby a culture established by a community teaches a person, by repetition, social norms and values so that if the individual complies, he or she may become accepted to the society and finds his or her suitable role. It defines what is acceptable and what is not culturally. Mexican lifestyles are relative to communal customs learnt throughout the whole life period from childhood to adulthood. This is done by passing information as people communicate through speech, words or expressions. Unique images, experiences or sites of different cultures also mode through which Mexican culture is learnt. Mexicans learn enculturation unconsciously slowly, until they mature into adults. They embrace their culture but most of the current generations do not follow their ancestry cultural set up. However, as one approaches the old age, they consciously learn what their culture is all about. In conclusion, it is only important for every one to pull a stunt that they are comfortable with. Although Khols thinks that it’s enough to maintain one’s state, depending on capability there should not be a limit to achievement, development and prosperity. This in turn is relevant to his thesis that main reason of living is to fulfill self-desire, which acknowledges hard work.
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