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Aging and Shifting Roles in Families

  • By: Joseph E. Gaugler, Holly Dabelko-Schoeny & Keith A. Anderson
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Social roles are behaviors with prescribed functions and norms that help to characterize individuals and their positions within families and social systems. Victoria Hilkevitch Bedford and Rosemary Bleiszner's definition of family is used in this discussion: “A family is a set of relationships determined by biology, adoption, marriage … and social designation, and existing even in the absence of affective involvement … (or) even after the death of certain members” (2000, p. 160). Family is considered the context of care in this entry.

Throughout the life span, individuals tend to shed old roles and assume new ones as they age and as the environment around them changes. While gaining new roles can be fulfilling for older adults and their family members, these changes can also ...

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