Ageing - Physical and Psychological Changes. Pathological Ageing

Topics: Gerontology, Old age, Ageing Pages: 6 (1672 words) Published: November 19, 2011
4. Discuss the physical and psychological changes associated with normal ageing. How can one minimise pathological ageing?

The process of aging has been around as long as life itself. All living organisms pass through three broad stages from conception to death, which are maturation, maturity and aging. Aging affects everyone because nearly everyone has the potential to grow old and all the societies in which we live have older members (Macdonald, 1997). Gerontology is the use of reason to understand aging. The term was used to refer to the scientific study of aging, but nowadays it includes the study of aging using views from other disciplines such as humanities, social policy and human services. To correctly understand aging, knowledge from a variety of sources is needed, therefore gerontology includes the results of research on aging from all academic disciplines and fields of professional practice. There are four interrelated aspects to the study of aging, which are, physical, psychological, social psychological and social. The study of physical aging examines the causes and consequences of the body’s declining capacity to renew itself and the means for preventing, treating, or compensating for illness or disability caused or related by physical aging (Atchley, 1997). Psychological aging focuses on sensory processes, perception, coordination, mental capacity, human development, personality, and coping ability as they are affected by aging.

In most societies, older people are generally viewed as a group of with common characteristics and needs. Older age is usually viewed as a state, a stage or an event. In reality, older people are not a homogenous group, but rather highly diverse individuals. The factor that is common to all older people is the accumulation of more numerous life experiences over a greater period of time than those of younger people (Bowling & Dieppe, 2005). Aging is defined as the process of becoming older, a process that is genetically determined and environmentally modulated. Aging is something that everyone will have to experience. Everyone will have to grow old. Normal ageing brings about changes in the body and mind, therefore both physical and psychological. These symptoms are all part of ageing, but also some might not be due to normal aging but rather due to diseases, which can be treated or remedied. Therefore, it is important to learn about normal ageing in order to be able to distinguish between disease and normal ageing so to be in a position to seek proper and early treatment for the disease.

Changes related to normal Ageing


Vision is usually impaired due to ageing. These can be due to presbyopia. There can also be overflow of tears due to blockage of drainage ducts and well as old people may have dry eyes (Chopdar et al., 2003). In order to minimise such problems it is important to check for presbyopia and wear suitable lens. Also it is important to seek a doctor’s advice on the need of any eye drops, only against doctor’s prescription.


Due to ageing hearing may be impaired. Hearing loss is common due to old age (Bates, 1993). In order to be able to adjust due to this condition lifestyle modifications may help to overcome this situation. This may include the consideration of hearing aids. Also the installation of loudspeakers to devices such as door bells and telephone units.


Sensation also if affected due to normal ageing. Old people have a blunted touch sensation, especially near the tips of the fingers and toes. Also there is a blunted sensation of temperature (Macdonald, 1997). Therefore, in order to counter act these changes, it is important for old people to wear well fitted shoes and take good care of their feet. If any wounds are present these should be inspected regularly. Also it is important to wear suitable clothes according to the day’s weather conditions.

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