A social problem exists due to aging and ageism, which affect people in society regarding their physical and mental health (M Libraries Publishing, 2015, p. 233-236). The social theory chosen to explain the existence of the social problem is structural-functionalism which posits that people’s relationships, norms, and roles regulate how a society serves its existence. Aging and ageism a problem since many aged people have to live in nursing homes due to lack of time by their family members to take care of them, lack of financial security and employment, and workplace ageism, which causes aged persons to appear as not fit to work (M Libraries Publishing, 2015, p. 233-236). There is a strong need to analyze the social problem to facilitate productive change management of health, safety, and resource distribution for the aging population.
Structural functionalism explains that social change is an adaptive response to an existing tension within a social system (Spacey, 2020). Aging and ageism thus qualify as a problem since their connection to structural functionalism reveals that tension exists in society when people advance to an age where they need support from the government, community health organizations, and their relatives. Cultural changes are the main factors affecting social development factors among the aging community members based on the need to implement significant focus for all persons. Society can form a culture of identifying aging people as having limited benefits to their external environment, thus causing them social isolation (M Libraries Publishing, 2015). Social work should focus on creating change among all communities to reduce cases of unfairness.
Structural functionalism can explain why the problem of aging and ageism exists since it states that adaptive changes are inevitable when different groups in society receive change. In local communities, aging is considered a common occurrence, yet not the majority of the population ages peacefully due to marginalization issues, limited health care access, racism, extrajudicial killings, and poverty. The aging population receives deplorable living conditions due to health and racial inequalities that increase in occurrence when no intervention occurs. Seniors can age without sufficient savings, experience elder abuse, declining health, and limited focus from community development bodies or their families (M Libraries Publishing, 2015, p. 238).
The occurrence of chronic conditions like dementia, hypertension, and diabetes are common for the aging population, which affects their mental well-being (Menkin et al., 2017). All the issues become worse in the community since aging is an inevitable fact that requires economic empowerment to sustain different people’s lives. Structural functionalism theory advocates for systematic change through insight into accepting social change as a natural process, and both experienced slowly and rapidly. As a result, societies tend to borrow some historic behaviors despite the high rate of evolution. Disengagement of the older population from their previous roles is imperative when they reach ages where it is hard for them to operate properly by themselves. Since structural functionalism considers social perception as a method of adhering to rules and norms that change, life must progress to a complex form that is developed by the rapid events that occur in societal groups.
Structural functionalism can inform possible solutions to aging and ageism by influencing family members to realize that the changing dynamics of aging people create tension in terms of economic, social, and political aspects; thus, acceptance is highly imperative. Acceptance is required to regulate the fact that aging people can progress in their previous roles in life, like careers, as long as they still function with high-quality standards. Therefore, as society evolves, people also need to evolve because as the community goes to a higher level, so does the civilization that deals with aging people’s roles and discrimination against them. There can be an improvement of positive change sometimes to facilitate good quality of social participation, especially when life expectancy increases.
As social changes get experienced in organizations and society, aging people’s activities are affected by them. Structural functionalism maintains social changes by stabilizing society since tensions can inevitably occur. Although the community uses some strains that will help stop conflict in aging person’s roles, having an equal opportunity for the aged population to contribute to society as they can perform political duties, for instance (M Libraries Publishing, 2015, p. 238). When issues come up, they should be taken care of before they escalate. The theory thus regulates family, community, and government operations since their participation is to maintain society’s functions. Institutions are continuously created depending on the evolvement of social needs. When a part of society goes through a breakdown, almost all the other parts are affected, thus promoting social change. Management of the aging population thus influences societies to work towards stabilization.
M Libraries Publishing. (2015). Social Problems: Continuity and Change. Pp. 227-259.
Spacey, J. (2020). 11 Examples of Structural Functionalism. Retrieved 5 May 2023 from https://simplicable.com/society/structural-functionalism.