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Concepts and Controversies

Eighth Edition
Additional resources:

May 2014 | 600 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Presenting current research in an innovative format, Aging: Concepts and Controversies, Eighth Edition encourages students to become involved and take an informed stand on the major aging issues that we face as a society. Using their extensive expertise, the authors provide a thorough explanation of the issues in the Concepts sections and current research in the Controversy sections, demonstrating the close links between concepts and controversies in these broad areas of aging: health care, socioeconomic trends, and the life course.

About the Authors
Basic Concepts I. A Life Course Perspective on Aging
Age Identification

The Stages of Life

The Life Course and Aging

Traditional Theories of Aging

Influences on the Life Course

Aging in the 21st Century

The Biology of Aging

Mechanisms of Physical Aging

Aging and Psychological Functioning


Controversy 1. Does Old Age Have Meaning?
The Meaning of Age

Leisure Activities in Later Life

Religion and Spirituality

Gerontology and the Meaning of Age

Activity or Reflection?

Reading 1: The Coming of Age, Simone de Beauvoir

Reading 2: Vital Involvement in Old Age, Erik H. Erikson, Joan M. Erikson, and Helen Q. Kivnick

Reading 3: Successful Aging, John Rowe and Robert Kahn

Reading 4: The Measure of My Days, Florida Scott-Maxwell

Controversy 2. Why Do Our Bodies Grow Old?
The Process of Biological Aging

Biological Theories of Aging

Is Aging Inevitable?

Ways to Prolong the Life Span

Compression or Prolongation of Morbidity?

Reading 5: Why Do We Live as Long as We Do? Leonard Hayflick

Reading 6: Vitality and Aging, James F. Fries and Lawrence Crapo

Reading 7: The Compression of Morbidity Hypothesis, Vincent Mor

Reading 8: Health Trends in the Elderly Population, Marti G. Parker and Mats Thorslund

Reading 9: We Will Be Able to Live to 1,000, Aubrey de Grey

Reading 10: Don’t Fall for the Cult of Immortality, S. Jay Olshansky

Controversy 3. Do Intelligence and Creativity Decline With Age?
Elements of Cognitive Function

The Classic Aging Pattern

Measures of Late-Life Intelligence

Studies of Age and Cognitive Function

Correlates of Cognitive Stability

Creativity in an Aging Population

Reading 11: Age and Achievement, Harvey Lehman

Reading 12: Age and Achievement, Wayne Dennis

Reading 13: Growing Old or Living Long, Laura L. Carstensen

Reading 14: The Mature Mind, Gene Cohen

Reading 15: Aging and Creativity, Becca Levy and Ellen Langer

Basic Concepts II. Aging, Health Care, and Society
The Challenge of Longevity

Epidemiology of Aging

Economics of Health Care

Long-Term Care

Self-Determined Death


Controversy 4. Should We Ration Health Care For Older People?
Precedents for Health Care Rationing

The Justification for Age-Based Rationing

Rationing as a Cost-Saving Plan

The Impetus for Rationing

Cost Versus Age

Alternative Approaches to Rationing

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

The Debate Over Age-Based Rationing

Reading 16: Why We Must Set Limits, Daniel Callahan

Reading 17: Pricing Life, Peter Ubel

Reading 18: The Pied Piper Returns for the Old Folks, Nat Hentoff

Reading 19: From an Ethics of Rationing to an Ethics of Waste Avoidance, Howard Brody

Reading 20: Aim Not Just for Longer Life, but Expanded “Health Span,”Daniel Perry and Robert Butler

Controversy 5. Should Families Provide For Their Own?
Aging and the American Family

Abandonment or Independence?

Family Responsibility

Medicaid and Long-Term Care

Financing Long-Term Care

Medicaid Planning

Reading 21: Medicaid and Long-Term Care, Peter J. Strauss and Nancy M. Lederman

Reading 22: Shame of the Rich, Jane Bryant Quinn

Reading 23: The Fallacy of Impoverishment, Stephen Moses

Reading 24: The Case Against Paying Family Caregivers, C. Jean Blaser

Reading 25: For Love and Money, Suzanne R. Kunkel, Robert A. Applebaum, and Ian M. Nelson

Controversy 6. Should Older People Be Protected From Bad Choices?
The Vulnerabilities of Older People

Interfering When People Make Bad Choices

Elder Abuse and Neglect

Perceptions of Quality of Life

Sexuality in Later Life

Crime and Older Adults

Intervention in the Lives of Vulnerable Older Adults

Reading 26: The Right to Freedom From Restraints, Robert N. Brown

Reading 27: Ethical Dilemmas in Elder Abuse, Terrie T. Wetle and Terry T. Fulmer

Reading 28: A Legal Perspective on Elder Abuse, Candace J. Heisler and Mary Joy Quinn

Reading 29: Elder Self-Neglect, Dorothy R. Fabian and Eloise Rathbone-McCuan

Controversy 7. Should People Have the Choice to End Their Lives?
Depression and Suicide

The “Right to Die”

Outlook for the Future

Reading 30: Why Do People Seek Physician-Assisted Death? Robert A. Pearlman and Helene Starks

Reading 31: A Time to Die, Charles F. McKhann

Reading 32: Last Rights, Sue Woodman

Reading 33: Neither for Love nor Money, Leon Kass

Basic Concepts III. Social and Economic Outlook for an Aging Society
The Varieties of Aging Experience

The Economic Status of Older Americans

Public Policy on Aging


Controversy 8. Should Age or Need Be the Basis for Entitlement?
A Tale of Two Generations

Justice Between Generations

The Least-Advantaged Older Adults

Help for Those Most in Need

The Targeting Debate

Reading 34: Growing Older, Lester Thurow

Reading 35: Will America Grow Up Before It Grows Old? Peter G. Peterson

Reading 36: “Generational Equity” and the New Victim Blaming, Meredith Minkler

Reading 37: The Generational Equity Debate, John B. Williamson, Diane M. Watts-Ray, and Eric R. Kingson

Controversy 9. What is the Future for Social Security?
Main Features of Social Security

Success—and Doubt

Pay as You Go

Social Security Trust Fund



Women and Social Security

Debate Over Social Security

Reading 38: How to Save Social Security, Peter Diamond and Peter Orszag

Reading 39: The Necessity and Desirability of Social Security Reform, Ramesh Ponnuru

Reading 40: Social Security Reform and Benefit Adequacy, Lawrence H. Thompson

Reading 41: Social Security for Yesterday’s Family? C. Eugene Steuerle and Melissa Favreault

Reading 42: The Future of Social Security, AARP

Controversy 10. Is Retirement Obsolete?
History of Retirement

Origins of Late-Life Leisure

Changes in the American Economy

A New View of Retirement

Debate Over Retirement Policy

Reading 43: Achieving a Productive Aging Society, Francis G. Caro, Scott A. Bass, and Yung-Ping Chen

Reading 44: Prime Time, Marc Freedman

Reading 45: The Busy Ethic, David J. Ekerdt

Reading 46: Moving Toward a Creative Retirement, Ronald J. Manheimer

Controversy 11. Aging Boomers: Boom or Bust?
Who Are the Boomers?

What Is a Generation? Age-Period-Cohort Analysis

Social Construction of the Boomer Phenomenon

Boomers in the Years Ahead

Reading 47: Boomsday, Christopher Buckley

Reading 48: No Country for Young Men, Megan McArdle

Reading 49: The Longevity Revolution, Theodore Roszak

Reading 50: The Long Baby Boom, Jeff Goldsmith

Controversy 12. The New Aging Marketplace
The New Customer Majority

One Market Sector Likely to Grow

What Do Older Consumers Want?

Limits of the Marketplace Model

Reading 51: Overview of the Boomer Market, Mary Furlong

Reading 52: Age Branding, Harry R. Moody and Sanjay Sood

Reading 53: Selling the Fountain of Youth, Arlene Weintraub

Reading 54: Marketplace of Memory, Daniel R. George and Peter J. Whitehouse

Epilogue: Finding Your Place in an Aging Society
Appendix: How to Research a Term Paper in Gerontology
Photo Credits


Instructor Teaching Site
Instructor Teaching Site includes:
  • A Microsoft® Word® test bank is available containing multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • A Respondus electronic test bank is available and can be used on PCs. The test bank contains multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions for each chapter and provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding. Respondus is also compatible with many popular learning management systems so you can easily get your test questions into your online course.
  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course. Highlight essential content, features, and artwork from the book.
  • Sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses provide suggested models for use when creating the syllabi for your courses.
  • Suggested course projects are designed to promote students’ in-depth engagement with course material.
  • Highlights from the Teaching Gerontology eNewsletters
  • Exhibits from the book
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to certain full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected for each chapter. Each article supports and expands on the concepts presented in the chapter. This feature also provides questions to focus and guide student interpretation. Combine cutting-edge academic journal scholarship with the topics in your course for a robust classroom experience.
  • Each chapter includes audio links related to important topics and designed to supplement key points within the text. Carefully selected, web-based video links feature relevant interviews, lectures, personal stories, inquiries, and other content for use in independent or classroom-based explorations of key topics. When relevant, related questions for discussion are included.
Student Study Site

The open-access Student Study Site includes the following:

  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards reinforce understanding of key terms and concepts that have been outlined in the chapters.
  • Mobile-friendly web quizzes allow for independent assessment of progress made in learning course material.
  • Each chapter includes audio links, covering important topics and designed to supplement key points within the text.
  • Carefully selected, video links feature relevant interviews, lectures, personal stories, inquiries, and other content for use in independent or classroom-based explorations of key topics.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to certain full-text SAGE journal articles have been carefully selected for each chapter. Each article supports and expands on the concepts presented in the chapter. This feature also provides questions to focus and guide your interpretation.

This text is designed to stimulate thought through focus on controversies in ageing. Whilst the central theme is care, the book has proved useful for introducing sports undergraduates to current themes and issues in this area at a time when different approaches to growing older are being considered by sport and exercise scientists as well as other disciplines. The questions at the end of each chapter were easily adapted to different contexts.

Dr Mark Hickman
School of Sport, Tourism and The Outdoors, University of Central Lancashire
November 1, 2016

An outstanding text in every respect, the text is a comprehensive resource for any course exploring aspects relating to ageing. It is ideal for all levels of courses exploring aspects of ageing. The text covers both the physiological and social aspects of ageing.
It is essential for any course examining the impacts of ageing and is ideal for students of all levels, ranging from BTEC, A Levels and undergraduate courses.

Mr Gavin Hatton
Sociology , Merthyr Tydfil College
October 13, 2016

Being strongly considered for Fall 2017

Professor Teresa Breiler
Social Work , Holy Cross College
September 16, 2016

Had used previous version. Like that it deals with contemporary issues of older adults and what's to come in the future for this aging population.

Dr Anne Y. Branscum
Human Environmental Stds Dept, Southeast Missouri State Univ
August 17, 2016

useful for life stages unit and theories of ageing.

Mrs Mel Aubrey
Health , Newcastle-under-Lyme College
February 10, 2016

Informative and easy to follow.

Mrs Janette Barker
Department of Health & Social Studies, Grimsby Institute of HE & FE
November 20, 2015

This book is essential to any course exploring ageing, the Sociology of Ageing or ageing and inequality.

The book is easy to read, with a simple to follow layout. It covers all the main areas including development through the life stages, theories of ageing and government policy and ageing. All of which are key elements in many courses exploring ageing.

The book is essential for level three and first year undergraduate students, studying ageing to any depth. It has equal focus on ageing in the UK as well as a global perspective, making it ideal for UK institutions, as often these types of books are US- focused.

I would advise any institution with course in Sociology, Access to HE or Health and Social Care to use this book as a key resource.

Mr Gavin Hatton
Sociology , St David's College
October 16, 2015

This is a book that sheds some light on issues of aging in contemporary society and complements my lectures on health and aging very well.

Dr Joana Almeida
Centre for Criminology and Sociology, Royal Holloway, University of London
August 30, 2015

On the core reading list for BSc Occupational Therapy programmes

Mrs Sandie Woods
Faculty of Health and Social Care, London South Bank University
July 15, 2015

This book provides a clear insight into the issues and concepts related to aging in am engaging way.

Dr Bridget Kirwan
Business Law , Tipperary Institute
June 19, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

Controversy 1

Controversy 2

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ISBN: 9781452275888

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