Social roles are broadly defined as the parts that we play within society. Roles can be relational—like daughter, partner, or friend—others more clearly communicate status, activity, or identity—like manager, worker, or teacher. Roles are also linked to different levels of acceptance or status within our communities. Our opportunities to hold various roles changes as we age and our circumstances change and we often gain and lose social roles over time. Role losses and gains can impact individual mental health, life satisfaction, and access to resources. Presenters describe how the concept of valued social roles can shape our work with older adults coping with serious mental illness. We focus on how people providing health care and assistance to older adults with mental illness can best partner with them to address the impact of social role losses and gains and work together to help these adults enact desired and valued social roles.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this program, the learner will be able to:
- Describe how different levels of opportunity, power, and respect tie to the status or value of a given social role.
- Identify how ageism, bias, and stereotypes about aging and serious mental illness can limit valued social role opportunities.
- Explain how social roles are gained or lost over the lifespan and how that differs based on characteristics like age or serious mental illness.
- Discuss what to understand about the lives and experiences of older adults with serious mental illness when creating working with them to create opportunities for valued social roles.