By David Watts M.D., Michael McCally M.D., Ph.D. (auth.), Christine K. Cassel M.D., John Richard Walsh M.D. (eds.)

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Gerontologist 19:361-367, 1979. Dahlsten J, Shank JC: Chronic and acute disease 1. Demographic Perspectives problems in rural nursing home patients. J Amer Geriatr Soc 27:112-116, 1979. 29. Thomas L: The Youngest Science: Notes of a Medicine Watcher. New York, Viking Press, 1983. 30. Pilner B, Williams TF: Health Promotion for the elderly: Reducing functional dependency in healthy people, in The Surgeon General's Report on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention, Background Papers. United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (PHS) publ 15 no 79-55071A, Washington, DC, 1979, pp 365386.

Finally, the pursuit of leisure activi- Cross-Cultural Context ties is strongly related to one's income. It frequently is assumed that old people choose to Much of the information presented above is pursue quiet home-bound activities when they based on data collected from populations that simply may be unable to afford more diverse are roughly representative of the United States activities. population as a whole. These data tell us much about the typical elderly person, often (albeit wrongly) defined as a white middle-class male.

Which of the two processes dominate should have important consequences for adjusting to later life. Given the many real declines that are associated with reaching old age, comparisons based on the past are likely to yield negative discrepancies and, hence, negative affective states. Alternatively, an elderly individual who uses his or her contemporaries as a basis of comparison should be less likely to experience negative discrepancies and, hence, a negative affect. As an example, consider an institutionalized older person and the types of events that he or she is likely to encounter.

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