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Understanding Communication and Aging
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Understanding Communication and Aging
Developing Knowledge and Awareness



May 2007 | 344 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"This interesting, easy-to-read book provides a comprehensive framework for considering communication and aging in the context of biology, sociology, and psychology. This thought provoking book is strongly anti-ageist. It could serve as a broad overview for anyone interested in the myriad of issues related to communication and aging." —CHOICE

"Understanding Communication and Aging achieves a nice balance between the facts of growing old, the social forces that shape that process, and the communication factors that connect these two domains. With attention to both research and everyday applications, the text is thorough and inviting. I am delighted that a user-friendly, undergraduate text has finally been produced in the field of communication and aging. This book deserves to be an instant and sustained success."
—Sandra Metts, Illinois State University

"This book has so many strengths. I am especially pleased with the communication focus and the discussions on cultural issues, new technologies, and identities. I am impressed by Dr. Harwood's creativity and reaching out to learners via the use of info boxes, significant achievement profiles, literary/artistic descriptions, selected detailed summaries of research, and quotations about aging. All of these features auger very well for student learning and enthusiasm. I commend Dr. Harwood for his attention to detail, targeting multiple learning styles, and attending to instructors who value these kinds of features."
—Jim L. Query, Jr., University of Houston

"The way Professor Harwood ties together theory, research, and everyday experience into a text that is accessible, interesting, and fun to read is impressive. The focus is not merely psychological or interpersonal; the book spans multiple disciplines. This text is the total package!"
—Jo Anna Grant, California State University, San Bernardino

Understanding Communication and Aging is the most accessible introduction to the many ways aging in the 21st century is influenced by human communication processes, from face-to-face conversation to mass media representations. With a lively presentation, author Jake Harwood presents central research findings while engaging students with important questions concerning communication and aging.

Key Features

  • Covers the broad area of communication and older adulthood: The book examines key topics such as interpersonal and family relationships in old age, media portrayals of aging, cultural variations in intergenerational communication, and health communication in old age.
  • Shatters the myths and stereotypes of aging: The book's orientation and perspective is on "healthy" living and aging. This anti-ageist approach encourages readers to reexamine their views on aging and become fluent at defending and promoting an anti-ageist ideology.
  • Provides concrete examples: While taking a theoretical approach, the book includes coverage of applied issues such as health communication and age-related prejudice and discrimination.

 
Part I. Introduction to the Study of Aging and Intergenerational Communication
 
1. Perspectives on Aging
Why Study Aging?

 
Approaches to Aging

 
Methods for Studying Aging

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
2. A Communication Approach to Aging
Decline in Communication

 
Counterpoint: A Positive Research Agenda on Aging

 
Approaches to Communication and Aging

 
Key Propositions Guiding the Book: A Communication Approach

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
Part II. Attitudes About Aging and Interpersonal Communication
 
3. Stereotypes and Attitudes About Aging and Intergenerational Communication
Distinguishing Stereotypes and Attitudes

 
Attitudes Concerning Aging

 
Stereotypes of Aging

 
Age Identity-Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

 
Cognitive Representations of Intergenerational Communication

 
Why Do Negative Attitudes and Stereotypes Matter?

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
4. Aging, Identity, Attitudes, and Intergenerational Communication
Communication Accommodation Theory

 
The Communication Predicament of Aging (CPA) Model

 
The Age Stereotypes in Interaction Model

 
Supporting Dependency

 
Other Dimensions of Accommodation

 
Age Identity: Disclosing and Concealing Age in Communication

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
5. Intragenerational Relationships in Older Adulthood
Marital Relationships in Old Age

 
Intragenerational Friendships in Old Age

 
Sibling Relationships

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
6. Intergenerational Relationships in Older Adulthood
Grandparenting

 
The Parent-Child Relationship in Older Adulthood

 
Intergenerational Friendships

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
7. Enhancing Communication with Older Adults
Change in Young People: The Influence of Intergenerational Contact on Attitudes

 
Ending the Predicament: The Communication Enhancement Model

 
Change in Older Adults: Confronting Patronizing Talk

 
Communication Skills and Communication Training

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
Part III. Social Representations and Mass Communication
 
8. Mass Communication Portrayals of Older Adults
Underrepresentation

 
Negative Representation

 
Positive Portrayals

 
The Media Industry

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
9. Uses and Effects of Media
Age Differences in Media Use

 
Uses and Gratifications Theory

 
Media Effects

 
Older People as "Embracers" of Television?

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
10. Culture, Communication, and Aging
East Asia

 
South Asia (India)

 
United States Latino Cultures

 
Native American Cultures

 
Globalization and Transcultural Themes

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
Part IV. Contexts of Communication in Older Adulthood
 
11. Health and Health Care
Physician-Older Patient Interaction

 
Support Groups for Caregivers

 
Elder Abuse

 
Additional Topics

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
12. Technology
Stereotypes of Older Adults-Technological Competence

 
The Reality of Older Adults-Computer Use

 
What Do Older People Do on the Internet?

 
Technology and the Workplace

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 
 
Part V. Conclusion
 
13. Conclusion
A Model of Aging in Individual and Societal Context

 
What Can You Do Now?

 
Summary

 
Keywords and Theories

 
Discussion Questions

 
Annotated Bibliography

 

an easy read and relates well to the aging process, cutlural issues, family relationships, discrimination and prejudice. very thought prevoking

Ms Carol-anne Westwell
Nursing & Midwifery, Bangor University
July 8, 2013

It is an important book for understanding the particular communication skills required when dealing with older adults. A good guide for acquiring the appropriate knowledge when dealing with this growing population segment.

Manos Georgiadis
Sport Sciences, University Campus Suffolk
May 14, 2013

This is an excellent resource for a number of subjects within gerontology. I found the issues around stereotypes and images of ageing useful for my module in particular. Students have found that content very accessible.

Mrs Margaret Brown
Health, Nursing & Midwifery (Hamilton), University of the West of Scotland
November 3, 2012

Well presented comprehensive text on communication and ageing suitable for those studying at specialist or post-graduate gerontological nursing level.

Patricia Fehin
School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork (NUI)
October 12, 2012

this is a book well organized, with essential information for students and easy to understand.

Professor Carla Faria
Fundamentos Gerais da Educação, Instituto Politecnico de Viana do Castelo - Escola Superior de Educação
September 27, 2012

Needed something a bit more general regarding long-term care

Professor Janice Davis
Communication Dept, Kean University
January 10, 2012

Not broad enough coverage for a class on the psychology of aging. The coverage presented, however, was EXCELLENT for a more specialized course!

Dr Kelly Harrison
Psychology Dept, Virginia Polytechnic Institution / State University
November 12, 2010
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Key features
  • Covers the broad area of communication and older adulthood, with a focus on the interpersonal, intercultural, and mass communication areas.
  • Shatters the myths and stereotypes of aging—as opposed to focusing on decline, ill health, dementia, etc., the book's orientation and perspective is on "healthy" living and aging.
  • While taking a theoretical approach, the study of communication and aging is inherently an "applied" area and that is reflected in this text with the use of concrete examples, and the coverage of applied issues such as health communication as well as age-related prejudice and discrimination.
  • Includes a number of features designed to involve the reader and make the content interesting; some combination of the following are scattered throughout to break up the text:
    • Informative "boxes" concerning myths of aging and keys to successful aging
    • Profiles of significant achievement and creativity in older adulthood (Thomas Mann, Miles Davis, Henri Matisse, Ronald Reagan, etc.)
    • Literary/artistic descriptions of aging and intergenerational communication as well as other first hand accounts of aging
    • Detailed summaries of empirical studies (separate from text—to provide understanding of methodological specifics, while not interrupting the flow of the review).
    • Quotations about aging (at the beginning of each chapter).
  • Each chapter ends with: a summary; an annotated bibliography/reading list for an advanced seminar (5 key articles); key words and theories; and a set of discussion questions.

For instructors

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