1. Discuss something new that you have recently learned – knowledge, skill or both, as a result of your recent learning experience in this course.
This course has enabled me to have a different perspective about life, especially concerning the period between middle adulthood and late adulthood. I have learnt several things, especially relating to people in their late adulthood. The many lessons concerning the different challenges that people go through have been revealing. In many cases, young people have the tendency to view older people as happy grandparents, and they rarely take the time to think more about the individual. This course has enabled me to realize that the older adults may face periods of depression, which may be brought by several factors including loneliness, regret of unfulfilled and unrealized expectations, low self-esteem because of physical health problems, and the fact that they have to deal with numerous health challenges. This raises the question of importance of families and togetherness for the older adults.
Older adults who are married or who live with a partner are happier than those living alone are. They find the comfort they need in being in companionship with someone whom they have known for a long time. Older adults prefer the close relationships they have had over the years, instead of forming new friendships. They would prefer living with their families, including their children, and other relatives, where they are accepted and loved, rather than living in homes, where they have to live with strangers. Therefore, families are crucial for the older adults. The family helps improve the lives of the older adults, and they are happier when surrounded by the people that they love. However, I also learnt that families could be a cause of pain for older adults, when they fail to treat them with care, and when they neglect them.
Families have the duty of taking care of the older members among them. When they fail to realize their duties, they end up mistreating the older adults. In such situations, nursing homes become the preferred option since the workers there will take care of the people in a better way. I think that this causes much pain for the older adults, especially those with children. The older adults may feel that their children are ungrateful for refusing to take care of them. There are many reasons why families may opt to take the older members of their families to nursing homes, and one of the reasons is that the family members may not be in a position of providing for the needs of the older members, who may require specialized treatment.
As people become older, they become more fearful because they are no longer confident in their abilities. They realize their limitations, and the lack of strength, and they have to ensure that they take better care of themselves. Some people take advantage of this; thus, muggings and other petty crimes are common in homes where older adults live alone. Older adults from ethnic minorities face additional challenges because they face varying levels of discrimination. They have developed different ways of dealing with discrimination. I have never thought much about the levels of discrimination that the older adults face, and how they cope with it.
2. How has your thinking or behavior changed based on what you have recently learned in this course?
My thinking has changed based on the knowledge I have acquired. I no longer view the older adults as people who have all the answers and wisdom, and who can handle any situation that they encounter. I have come to view them as ordinary people, who may often need help, because of their declining health. Although the older adults have gained much experience over the years and offer sound practical advice, they may not always make the wisest decisions. They have to contend with failing memories and brain functioning, and this may affect their capacity for reasoning and understanding different issues. They face fears as they realize that they are nearing the end of their days, and they have to deal with death. I have realized that just because the older adults have aged and face chronic health problems does not mean that they are not afraid of death. They go through different stages before they even consider accepting death. Despite their old age, they continue hoping that they will live for a few more years. This has changed my behavior towards the older adults and their capabilities. I have realized the importance of engaging them in different activities as this will keep their mind of the negative situations and fears in their lives. They will continue hoping and realizing that they are still alive despite their age, and they are not just waiting to die.
I have changed my thinking concerning older adults from ethnic minorities. In some cases, I have met some older adults who appeared angry, but I did not care to ask them what was happening to them, or why they appeared mad at the world. With the knowledge I have gained from the course, I will be more sensitive towards the needs and concerns of the older adults. I will strive to ensure that I identify the older adults in my community and visit them. I will take the tome to ensure that I learn as much as I can from them by talking to them and asking them to share their experiences. I believe that some of the older adults have much that they can offer the world, but they do not have a way of sharing the information they have if no one else is willing to talk to them, and if the only companions they have are other older adults.
3. If you had the chance to learn this content or develop this new skill again, would you rather have a face- to- face or online learning experience? Explain why.
I think that online classes provided a flexible learning experience for this course. However, I believe that having a face-to-face experience has its advantages over the online experience. I think that it would have been better for a meaningful class discussion and debate on several issues with the other students in a verbal discussion. For instance, the issue of marriages and the increasing divorce rates among the middle age adults in the country would have elicited much heated discussion. On one hand, the middle age adults are at a time in their life when they realize the importance of family, and when they have the chance to rekindle their relationship once the children are out of the home. On the other hand, some middle adults realize that they can have more freedom once the children are alone, and they desire to live on their own. Although the online experience provided a platform to discuss many issues, it lacked the real experience of seeing people’s passion as they talk about the issues that interest and concern them in live discussions. Moreover, there is an added advantage of instant feedback in the face-to-face online experience, which is crucial in case a person needs clarification on an issue.
4. Some of what you have learned in the course so far has been through on-line means. How do you feel about this on-line learning experience? What difficulties/challenges did you experience?
The online experience was riveting. It provided several benefits, especially in terms of convenience, and the fact that I was able to read more on the topics using the materials offered and other materials that I researched. However, I found it difficult and challenging to maintain the level of discipline required in an online classroom. I always had the idea that I would get to do the work assigned eventually, but I ended up wasting a lot of time. Another challenge that I encountered involved remembering to respond to feedback. In a traditional classroom, I have the option of nodding or just responding with yes or no replies without a second thought to it. However, the online experience is different in the sense that I had to take my time thinking over what I was going to write and send in email or post in discussion forums. This required much time on my part since I had to reflect on different issues.