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This chapter discusses the basis on which studies have been done on the later years of life in Western and non-Western cultures. It suggests that because Westerners value independence, most research on aging in Western societies has focused on how to help the individual maintain his or her functional independence throughout the life-span. Non-Westerners, on the other hand, value interdependence. Therefore, most research on aging has focused on the availability of social support in later life. But with Westernization influences in non-Western societies, there should be a shift in research efforts in order to accommodate a new understanding of aging and human development that includes the promotion of functional independence in later life.

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