Critically evaluate how environmental factors impact on the experiences and life events of an adult who you know, and how these factors influence that person’s health, wellbeing and use of support from others.
I am going to discuss an eighty two year old woman who I am going to call Mrs Smith (her name has been changed to protect her identity). Mrs Smith is the middle of five children, who has lived all her live in the South of England. She married at nineteen and had four children, all of whom are now grown up, happily married and with children of their own, giving her ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Mrs Smith’s husband died in 1998 and she has lived on her own ever since. In this essay I am will be drawing on five environmental perspectives, individual environments, personal and family relationships, physical environments, community and cultural environments and the impact of poverty on health, and will be looking at how each of these perspectives have impacted on Mrs Smith’s life experiences, the influences they have had on her health and how she accesses support from others.
Individual environments will impact on the health and/or longevity of Mrs Smith. There is evidence to suggest that, on the whole, people are living longer lives than they did in centuries past. Victor (2005) stated in England and Wales in 1901 ‘some 40% of all deaths were accounted for by children aged 0-14’ (Reader, page 69). By 2008, 83% of deaths were accounted for by those aged 65 and over; Mrs Smith is therefore more likely to live a longer life now than she could expect if she were born in 1830 rather than 1930. There is also evidence to suggest that women tend to live longer than men and factors such as healthy diets, not drinking or smoking and exercise can also have an impact on longevity. Dr Tom Perls suggested that ‘some people seem to have a genetic predisposition to aging more slowly’ (LG 6.1) and, as a non-smoking, healthy-eating, teetotal who gardens regularly and with parents who lived well into their 90s, Mrs Smith could be expected to be very long-lived indeed. Up to 1998, Mrs Smith experienced very few health problems other than normal childhood illnesses and having to have hospital treatment following complications at the birth of her second child. However, she developed arthritis in her knees in the late 1990s which had serious implications on her mobility. As a keen gardener Mrs Smith spent most of her days in her very large garden, growing all her own fruits and vegetables and tending a small flock of chickens. Her arthritic knees meant she found this increasingly more difficult and she relied heavily on her husband to complete the more strenuous tasks of digging the garden. When Mr Smith (name changed to protect anonymity) died suddenly in 1998 Mrs Smith was devastated. Not only had her partner of nearly forty years died, she now had no one to help her with her beloved garden. Mrs Smith’s children do not live close enough to help her with the garden on a daily basis but they did visit regularly to help her with whatever they could. They noticed that their mother seemed increasingly withdrawn and eventually persuaded her to visit the doctor. Mrs Smith was diagnosed with depression and given medication to help her with those symptoms. Although the doctor was treating the effects of Mrs Smith’s depression he could not really do anything about the cause – the loss of her partner and her inability to keep her garden tidy. It was up to Mrs Smith’s children and a helpful neighbour to organise (and pay for) a local man to come every week to do the heavier work in Mrs Smith’s garden for her. She was eventually given replacement knees by the National Health Service (NHS) and was then able to go back to doing most of her gardening work herself but she still relies on her gardener to do most of her digging and her children have taken over cutting her lawn for her when they visit. This has had the effect of making...
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