In Erikson’s Theory on the Stages of Psychosocial Development
In Erikson’s Theory on the Stages of Psychosocial Development, late adulthood ranging from 65 years old and above is where the conflict Ego Integrity versus Despair arises. Several studies show varying proofs of happiness among elderly due to environmental factors and natural changes that come with the age.
One study on elderly reported findings about their sources of happiness. Cid, Ferres and Rossi (2008) found out that the elderly in Uruguay consider themselves happy across the following conditions: high salary/income, high standard of health and being married. On the other hand, these elderly tend to have lower levels of happiness if they are living alone and if their nutrition is insufficient.
Another study on a different culture was conducted to measure happiness among elderly. Adamchak, Allain, Gomo, Matenga and Wilson (1996) found out several determinants that keep Zimbabweans happy despite their old age. These determinants are basically their type of settlement which is rural, the material support given by their children and the satisfaction with financial circumstances.
Allison, Amante, Angner, Ghandhi and Purvis (2012) then affirmed in their study the role of health as a very significant factor in the happiness experienced by elderly. They conducted a study on the strength of health’s relationship with happiness among old people. The study’s results turned out as they expected when freedom-from-debility or the absence of physical disabilities become directly related with happiness in old age. It was clearly shown in this study that health status is the most influential predictors of happiness among elderly.
Aside from this, there are a couple of interesting studies on happiness in which determinants seem to be not that usual. As mentioned in the earlier parts of this section, culture plays an important role in determining the sources of happiness in and out of an individual. Thus, other culture-oriented studies present other perspectives as well as very particular experiences of happiness.
In China, it was found out that grandparents have this somewhat favoritism on their grandchildren. In such context, they are even closer and more possessive of their grandchildren than of their children. Such situation may be supported by the old Chinese saying, “three generations under one roof” connoting the presence of grandchildren in the grandparents’ house. Hau and Shangyi (2012) then put this observation in empirical form and found out in their study that Chinese elderly have higher degrees of happiness when living with grandchildren. On the contrary, living with their children was found out to have a negative effect on their levels of happiness.
In the Western context however, the perception of happiness seem to be determined by more varied factors. A study conducted by Mookherjee (1998) aimed to identify the influences on the perception of happiness among elderly living in the metropolitan areas of the United States. The study’s data revealed five factors significantly relative to the elderly perception of happiness. These factors are as follows: race, marital status, education, financial status and religious attendance.
These differences in the determinants and factors relative to happiness may be accounted for differences embedded in cultures. As said by Inglehart (1986), the differences between countries when it comes to happiness may reflect cognitive cultural norms rather than individual experiences of feelings such as grief and joy.
Theories of Aging and Erikson (2012) provided a clear picture on the life stage of elderly. The first discussed withdrawal, a certain way of holding back and slowing down, after an individual reaches the age of 65, or the retirement age. The second was cited by Lahey (1995) discussing late adulthood stage as the stage wherein the conflict between ego integrity and despair surfaces and may either produce fulfillment or despair as said by Cherry (2012). Carlos, Ogena, Monsod and Virola (1999, 2006, 2008, 2011) then elaborated on factors that positively and negatively influence Filipino elderly. These are health factors which may be in the form of diseases and debility, the presence of and treatment from homes and nursing institutions, advancements in technology, and lastly, family support system, which was said to bring life satisfaction among old people.