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Running Head: INTERGENERATION PAPER

Course Title Communication, Aging, and Culture Course Identification - COMM 36505 Instructor Dr. Carole A. Barbato Course Completed Fall 2012 Assignment Title Final Paper Assignment Description The intergeneration project is designed to help you understand the differences between your generation and the generation of someone who is over the age of 55. You must conduct three separate interviews and take extensive notes on the individual. When you are done, write a reflective analysis on your person and how he or she is coping with aging. You must then present your paper to the class and share how it related to topics discussed in class. Reflection While this is one of my shorter works, I picked this paper because of my life long experience with generation gaps, health, and aging. Growing in Canfield, Ohio, I lived next door to both of my grandparents on my mother s side. Considering both of them in their 90s, I have witnessed the effects of declining age and health. I have also witnessed this with my own mother, who is the subject of my paper. Analyzing the aspects of the aging baby boomer population helps put in to context the state of future health care in the United States. Being a health communication major, it is my duty to educate people on the growing demand for health related activities for our aging population. It is also important to discuss the views individuals share on themselves from the effects of aging. I helped point this out in my paper by interviewing my mother based on her changing ideologies due to aging. Reflecting back on this paper, I wished I would have gone in to greater detail pertaining to my mother s concern for the future of my generations health. Being able to bridge the gap between generations with be essential in the healthcare field, as well as promoting healthy lifestyles to the elderly.

Running Head: INTERGENERATION PAPER

Intergeneration Analysis Paper Brian Boucherle Communication Aging and Culture 10/3/12

Running Head: INTERGENERATION PAPER While typing this paper at the age of twenty-one, it is quite difficult to picture myself being an

elderly citizen. Even during everyday interactions with older people, it is hard to fathom that they were once my age. Growing up in Canfield, Ohio, I've interacted heavily with elders, be it neighbors, family, friends, or my grandpa and grandma who lived next door. I have always felt as if I had an advantage over many people my age because talking to those who are older than myself has become natural. Younger people are very much plagued with stereotypes about the old, and it creates a sort of communication barrier that makes interaction troublesome. I interviewed my mother, Jayne Boucherle, who is fifty-eight years of age. I chose my mother because she is part of the baby boomer generation, and is nearing her senior citizen stage of life. My mother had me when she was thirty-six, which is considered odd since many parents decide to have children in their 20's. Like myself, she grew up around a lot of older people, and she has absolutely no problem interacting with them. Her father, Jim Duffett, happens to be our neighbor, so everyday she is interacting with him. He recently turned ninety as of June. I really wanted to start this interview off by asking my mother about her generation and how it differs from previous generations. I was really surprised that she did not go into much detail about the Vietnam war, the summer of love, and the civil right movement. She said the biggest difference from previous generations was the importance of a college education. Contrary to her father's generation, college and university education was slowly becoming the norm for young adults who graduated high school. Before then, most citizens were able to have a successful life by going into the workforce immediately. Comparing it to today's world, it is sometimes considered odd for someone to NOT attend college and get a degree. Once I graduated high school, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that going to college was a requirement in order to be successful. One of my favorite questions I asked my mother was how she viewed the process of aging. I can not begin to tell how many different perspectives I have heard about aging. When talking to people

Running Head: INTERGENERATION PAPER

my age, the general consensus is negative. They fear the reduction in cognitive ability, health, and their youthful abilities, as well as freedom. I, myself, fall in this category. I honestly do fear the process of aging, and so far I think I am growing up too fast. My mother, however, was much more optimistic about aging. Increased effectiveness of healthcare and being around to see family members grow up were some of her reasons to view aging in a positive light. I believe this applies very well with the Life Span Perspective we learned in chapter 4 because, in my mother's perspective, losing some of your youthful abilities are countered by giving up your time and effort to benefit the relationship of your family. Family relationships are considered very important through the Life Span perspective. When asked how her view on how her life changed after hitting age fifty, staying in good physical shape seemed to be a reoccurring theme. My sister is currently enrolled at Ohio State University and is studying dietetics. While she was home for the summer, she designed an excellent nutritional plan for both my mother and father. While my parents are not obese, they definitely wanted to eat healthy due to their slowed metabolism. Along with sticking to a regular exercise plan, both parents have lost a remarkable amount of weight and have stated how much better they feel throughout the day. Another theme was having more focus on a balance of work and leisure. While both of my parents have worked hard all their lives, putting two children through college and trying to find time to enjoy themselves is not an easy task, especially when you own your own business. My mother admits that her daily routine has been affected by the aging process. Physical activity has become a lot more troublesome. Certain chores around the house take a bit more time and require more rest in between. This is yet another reason why she wishes to eat better and stay in good physical shape. She also finds herself a lot busier during the day, but does so purposefully and willingly. One thing she has improved on is her constant worry and anxiety. As far back as I can remember, my mother has always had problems with worrying over minor things that are not under her control. When I went away to college a few years ago, her anxiety was definitely at its peak. On a daily

Running Head: INTERGENERATION PAPER

basis, I would be bombarded with texts, calls, and emails on the little things that would worry her about me being away. I am proud to say that over the last few years, my mother has drastically reduced her worry and anxiety to the point where I, myself, does not have to worry as well. Every generation has a different approach to raising their children. While some ways of raising children can be controversial, nevertheless, it shapes their views on what is valuable and important in this world. My mother was raised in a generally blue collar household. Her father was a farmer and a crane operator, and her mother worked on and off at countless assembly line jobs. Through this, her work-ethic has been extremely strong, whether for work, school, or raising children. She was also taught the value of being honest and accountable for her actions. When comparing my generation to her generation, mine is extremely lackluster in being accountable for our actions. When something goes wrong in our lives, such as a recent event or a continuing circumstance, we try and put the blame on someone other than ourselves. This kind of attitude spreads easily, and can negatively interfere with our relationships. As well as being raised to be honest, she was raised to have faith through the Lutheran church. Even today, my mother and her father are both heavily involved in church related volunteering and attendance. One answer that really struck me was how neighborhood orientated my mother grew up to be. When she was growing up, every neighbor knew each other and were very friendly. Block parties occurred frequently and no one hesitated to strike up a conversation. When I compare it to the neighborhood I was raised in, it feels as if the dream of a neighborhood orientated community is dead. There were a handful neighbors that I personally knew and were friendly with. Some I have never even met before. Maybe one day things will be rekindled, and the neighborhood dream will be more prominent in our society. Once my mother turned fifty, she had a greater desire to be involved in her community and expand her horizons by joining organizations that not only benefited herself, but her family. One recent

Running Head: INTERGENERATION PAPER

organization she has become a part of is the Youngstown Business and Professional Women Club. The organization focuses on the importance of women in the business field, and the contributions they provide. My mother has been the co-founder of Matterhorn Consulting, which is the company my father started twenty years ago. She has been an integral part of the company's growth throughout the years. Kent State Mother's Club has become one of my mother's favorite new clubs. It is simply an organization of mothers and grandmothers who had a child/grandchild graduate from Kent State and wish to help those who are still attending Kent State. Some of the activities they do include creating gift baskets with useful items for college and small-scale scholarships that help students who may need a little more cash on their side. Both of these organizations are great examples of the Intergroup Theory and Social Identity Theory, which we learned in chapter four. According to SimplyPsychology.org, social identity is a sense of who they are based on their group membership(s). My mother can easily relate to the Kent State Mother's Club because she, like the other members, all share the common fact that they have or had a child/grandchild who graduated from Kent State. While my mother is not in the elder stages of her life, she has still had to experience a few age related stereotypes over the last few years. Being not as physically quick and having less endurance has become more prominent. Sometimes, children will treat her much older than what she really is, as well as other adults slightly raising their voice as they talk to her. All in all, most age related stereotypes haven't really applied to my mother yet. At the beginning of this paper, I stated that I have a fear of aging and all the ailments that come with it. When I asked my mother this question, she said she was not terrified about being elderly, but she was uneasy about a few things. Having the fear of debilitating illnesses and being confined to a nursing home were her top concerns. When having to consider the what-ifs down the road, which are often bad-case scenarios, it is not a very pleasant thing to plan out. In class, we talked about a few stereotypes on how some elderly citizens feel they are burdening their friends and family members with

Running Head: INTERGENERATION PAPER their illnesses and having to be taken care of on a regular basis. Being the naturally worrisome person my mother is, it is obvious that thoughts like this go through her head often. This paper really opened my eyes to see just how different the world is viewed and interpreted by those who are older than myself. I can say that even transitioning from high school to college, my view on what is important in life has drastically changed. I can't imagine how my view on life will change once I am out on my own and have a family. I'm really glad I decided to interview my mother because her and I already share a lot of similarities in our views on life. It will be interesting to see what the next chapter in our lives will be like.

Running Head: INTERGENERATION PAPER References Harwood, J. (2007). Understanding Communication and Aging: Developing Knowledge and Awareness. Los Angeles, CA: Sage. [ISBN-13: 978-1412926096]. McLeod, S. (n.d.). Social Identity Theory. Simply Psychology - Psychology Articles for Students. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html