Virginia is an eighty-five-year women whom I met while doing my internship with the Alzheimer’s association this summer. We both share the same ambition about getting the word out about Alzheimer’s. She has been a volunteer with the association since 2003. Virginia takes life day by day and believes that in order to age successfully you need to stay active in the things you love and to also learn new things. Virginia was born and raised in downtown Chicago, a few blocks from Wrigley Field. She and her family would try to go too at least one game a year.
She is one of three children, being the middle child. She has a younger sister and an older sister which she is very close to both of them. Both of her parents have passed away leaving her and her siblings the only ones left. She isn’t one much on saving for the future, she believes that you have only one life and you should do whatever you want in life and enjoy it to the fullest. When I asked her what brought her life satisfaction, she said it was being able to stay active in her community with family, friends and several organizations. She loves to travel and take classes at the Center for Learning.
Concepts and Theory Some of the concepts that I have chosen to incorporate into the paper are adaptation, adult care, daily activities, retirement and I have chosen to incorporate the activity theory. I believe that these concepts and theory best fit Virginia’s busy life. The activity theory of aging was constructed on the basis of an individual’s life satisfaction directly related to his or her level of social interaction and/or the level of the activity. The activity theory states that people develop ideas about themselves based on their daily activities and the rolls that they play in life.
According to the theory many people give up roles as they age. Many often move into roles that makes them question their self identity such as; retirement, becoming a widow or widower. And because these changes can cause an individual to question their identity many will create substitute roles for the ones that they have had to abandon (Atchley, Robert and Barusch, Amanda 2004). Family, Friends, and Social Support There are three of bonding that hold a relationship together: interdependence, intimacy, and belonging. Interdependence is what brings people together to satisfy their needs, which can’t be done alone. hrough these relationships individuals can bring together their resources, knowledge and support for one another. intimacy allows individual to exchange affection and trust among their friends, family, and other social support systems. relationships that individuals develop can be based on their need to belong. These three types of bonding can combined or can be used independently (Atchley, Robert and Barusch, Amanda 2004). Family is one of the most important and simple social institutions. There are many different styles of family throughout our cultural.
Family’s can be a major support system for individuals that are going through changes in their life as they age. Virginia expressed to many in many ways that as she grew up family was a very important part of her life. Virginia is the middle child of three kids. She has a younger and older sister. As children they were very close and continued to be as they grew into adults. When the sisters were all about the age of twenty they all were living in different states but still making sure that they kept in contact with their parents and between one another at least weekly by phone.
Virginia and her sisters were born and raised in Chicago, a few blocks from Wrigley Field, so as a family they would often walk down to the field and watch the Chicago Cubs play. She spoke of family vacations that were taken yearly, one that she cold remember the most was of the trip that they would take every fourth of July to Nashville to celebrate the holiday with her fathers family. Virginia did not have a lot of her mothers family in the states, they were from Germany. Her mothers father had came over here on a ship and found work in Chicago then sent for her grandmother and the four children.
Her grandfather did not believe in education for women, so her grandmother did not get any formal education as an adult. This had carried over to her mother also, which was not able to go to college. Virginia’s mother was a stay at mom and her father was a carpenter for the City of Chicago. Along with the family trips that they took every year they also had many traditions that they had developed over the years that help the family to bond. Virginia told me of a story that she said that she cherishes to this day.
Every year at Christmas time their father would go out and get a tree and put the lights on the tree while her and her sisters attended church with their mother. When he knew it was about time for the girls to be home he would take the tree and hide in the garage to surprise the girls with the tree. They would then decorate the tree as a family while singing Christmas songs. When Virginia’s father turned sixty-five- years old he had retired and moved her and her mother to Florida. Virginia’s sister were married at this time one living in California and the other in Arizona.
Virginia had tried to get an apartment but cold not find any one to rent to a single women feeling that she would not be able to pay the rent since at that time period women were not often working and going to college. She was able to attend one year of college but had to stop after that because of funding issues. Three years after moving to Florida her father passed away from a heart problem leaving her and her mother out there alone with no family. Her mother shortly moved to Arizonian with her older sister and she moved back to Chicago where she had bought her own business.
Some time after her younger sister had moved to Rockford and was a teacher for many years. In 2001 Virginia had to sell her business and move to Rockford and become the care giver of her sister that had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Virginia had felt that since she was the only one that was demographically close it was her duty to take care of her. Eventfully her sister was moved into a long term care facility and just recentuly passed away. It was very hard for Virginia to talk about taking care of her sister since it has been fairly recent that she has passed away.
We chose to move on to her relationship with her older sister. The two of them are also very close even though they miles away. Both of them share the interest in traveling and chose to do a lot of it together since they both are widows. They takes turns flying to see one another and try to spend at least two weeks together. Her and her older sister keep on contact daily thru email and talk on the phone at least twice a week. According to the book most couples are married and living with their husbands and wife.
Virginia did not follow all the rules when it came to getting married at a young age and being a stay at home mother. She has no children and did not marry till her and her husband had retired. He had been married before and had three children so he found it hard to re-marry while they were young due to the children having hard feeling at first. Virginia keeps in contact with the kids still even though her husband has passed, but not on a regular bases usually at the holidays (Atchley, Robert and Barusch, Amanda 2004).
According to the text book couples who have a satisfied marriage grow closer as they age. Most of these couples often show a high degree of interdependence, especially in the terms of caring for an ill spouse. Happy couples share many interest and also develop more equality between one another, the household chores become more shared than being directed towards the women. There are many functions of a happy marriage such as: sexual and personal intimacy, independence, and a feeling of belonging. As individuals age many will report a change in their personal intimacy.
Illness such as Alzheimer’s disease can be the factor that for this. As the spouse takes over the role as the care taker they may start to grieve the loss of the intimacy that they shared before the individual became sick. The role of care taker can also put a strain on the relationship, particularly if the care taker is dealing with health issues themselves (Atchley, Robert and Barusch, Amanda 2004). Virginia said that her and her husband had a wonderful relationship and shared the love of flying together.
After a few short years of being married Virginia’s husband started to show signs of Alzheimer’s. They both were in denial and continued to run the business together and travel. In 2001 they had moved to Rockford to help take of her sister and she then also had become the care taker of her husband. She found it very hard to be the care taker of both her husband and sister. At that time she did not know about any help that she could get for her husband such as day care facilities so that she can do running and just take a brake. She kept him home with her till he passed away.