Theories of Aging

Topics: Gerontology, Aging, Old age Pages: 5 (1964 words) Published: June 13, 2013
Explain the theories of aging
Ageing is the changes in a person over time. Ageing in humans refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change. Population ageing is the increase in the number and proportion of older people in society. Population ageing has three possible causes: migration, longer life expectancy, and decreased birth rate. Ageing has a significant impact on society. Young people tend to push for political and social change, to develop and adopt new technologies, and to need education. Older people have different requirements from society and government as opposed to young people, and frequently differing values as well.

Disengagement Theory
Disengagement could mean a lot of things however the simple meaning to it would be when you don’t engage with people or things; instead you exclude yourself from things. However it could also mean one's abilities to deteriorate over time. As a result, every person will lose ties to others in his or her society, individual interactions between people, an individual who has fewer varieties of interactions has greater freedom from the norms imposed by the interaction. Consequently, this form of disengagement becomes a circular or self-perpetuating process. The individual's life is punctuated by ego changes. For example, aging, a form of ego change, causes knowledge and skill to deteriorate. However, success in an industrialized society demands certain knowledge and skill. To satisfy these demands, age-grading ensures that the young possess sufficient knowledge and skill to assume authority and the old retire before they lose their skills. Disengagement theory is independent of culture, but the form it takes is bound by culture.

Activity Theory
Activity theory is more of a descriptive meta-theory or framework than a predictive theory. It considers an entire work/activity system beyond just one user. It accounts for environment, history of the person, culture, role of the artifact, motivations, and complexity of real life activity. One of the strengths of AT is that it bridges the gap between the individual subject and the social reality. The object of activity theory is to understand the unity of consciousness and activity. The basic principle of this theory is that successful aging occurs when older adults stay active and maintain social interactions.

Continuity Theory
The continuity theory of normal aging states that older adults will usually maintain the same activities, behaviors, personalities, and relationships as they did in their earlier years of life. According to this theory, older adults try to maintain this continuity of lifestyle by adapting strategies that connect to their past experiences. Unlike the other two theories, the continuity theory uses a life course perspective to define normal aging. The theory deals with the internal structure and the external structure of continuity to describe how people adapt to their situation and set their goals. The internal structure of an individual such as personality, ideas, and beliefs remain constant throughout the life course. This provides the individual a way to make future decisions based on their internal foundation of the past. The external structure of an individual such as relationships and social roles provides a support for maintaining a stable self-concept and lifestyle.

Case Study 1:
Grace is 84 years old. When she was younger she was a ballet dancer at the Royal Opera House. She had a very glamorous lifestyle, famous friends and travelled the world. Now she is physically disabled and uses a wheelchair, Grace likes to talk about her past but she always appears sad afterwards. She does not like to join in with the other residents in the home and when activities are organized she chooses to stay in her room.

In this case Grace did some lovely and wonderful things when she was young but unfortunately as she aged she became physically disabled and this has...
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