Answer TWO of the following questions:
1. One research group has studied 1,200 people between the ages of seventy and eighty. After keeping track of these people for ten years, the researchers found that the ones who kept their excellent mental functioning had three traits in common: they were physically active, they were mentally active, and they felt that they were making a contribution to their families and communities. How many “successful agers” do you know? What qualities do they share?
2. At present there is no definitive laboratory test for Alzheimer’s disease and no cure, though some medications can help ameliorate the symptoms. Because scientists have identified many of the genes that confer an increased risk for the disease, it’s possible that a genetic test will become available. Would you want to know whether you were at risk for developing an incurable disease? What if having the gene meant that the disease was a certainty, as is the case with Huntington’s disease (which causes memory loss,movement problems, and dementia)? Would knowing your fate make you live your life differently, or would you just start carrying the burden of the disease that much earlier?
3. In other cultures, older people are respected and revered because of their wisdom and experience. This was true in our culture too, until recently. Nowadays, however,America glorifies youth, and all too often the elderly are seen as comical, querulous and infirm. As the country’s population ages, what steps could we take as a society to give older people a more active role to play? Raise the retirement age, for example? Have mediation sessions in nursing homes, where minor grievances are aired before a panel of older, volunteer judges? Encourage senior citizens to write articles, stories and plays to share their insights?