Task 3 - Factors influencing ageing

Sarah Jane Rubio

Definition of older age

It is the last period of human life and the coming near of the end of life stage, now often considered to be the years after 65. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/old%20age

When people hit the frail old age they will slowly become weak and realise they are not as active as much as they were younger. There will be some changes in their lives such as attitudes and ageism; which is discrimination or unfair treatment based on a person's age. It can impact on someone's confidence, job prospects, financial situation and quality of life. It can also include the way that older people are represented in the media, stereotypes, which can have a wider impact on the public's attitudes. Examples of ageism would be losing their job because of their age, being refused interest-free credit, a new credit card, car insurance or travel insurance, being refused a referral from a doctor to a consultant because you are 'too old' or being refused membership to a club or trade association. However there are some things that old people can benefit from such as delivery of free services (dental, prescriptions, and eye tests).

Theories of ageing

There are two different types of theories of ageing which is sociological and psychological. When we get to psychosocial theories of ageing, defined as a focus on social and psychological aspects leading to successful ageing, we have different ways of defining 'success' and varied ways of reaching it. While we all have the dream of being old people who yell at young people, there are other and more varied ways we can define successful ageing and how to get there. The following is the list of the theories that are included with our first theory:
  • Activity theory- The activity theory occurs when individuals engage in a full day of different activities and maintains a level of productivity to age successfully and healthily with no problems. The activity theory basically says: the more you do, the better you will age. which many people can easily agree with. People who remain active and engaged tend to be happier, healthier, and more in touch with what is going on around them. Same goes for people of any age.
  • Continuity theory- The continuity theory states that individuals who age successfully continue habits, preferences, lifestyle, and relationships through mid-life and later. This theory makes a certain kind of intuitive sense. People who are doing well in mid-life, who are happy, healthy, and bright should carry over the habits and ideals that made them that way. Basically meaning, good stuff should be continued because it's good stuff and obviously good for you.
  • Disengagement theory- The disengagement theory of ageing claims that elderly people begin to systematically and consistently disengage from their previous social roles as they realize the inevitability of death is in the near future . The theory further suggests that society responds to the elder's disengagement with a sort of mutual recognition that the elder will soon pass and society must prepare to function in their absence. As such, the theory argues that it is natural and acceptable for older adults to withdraw from society. Supporters believed that it explained how people prepared for death. By slowly letting go of society, older adults were supposedly getting ready to let go of life as well.

Social theories of ageing are expected progressions from mid-life to older life based on social factors. The social theories attempt to explain how certain people age well. We aren't talking about how some people don't get wrinkles or grey hair as they grow older; we are talking about people who don't despair or become depressed. What sets them apart, socially, from others?

  • Disengagement theory- The disengagement theory is the process of individuals withdrawing and isolating from previous social interactions due to age. This is one of the oldest theories put forth, and was originally put forward around the 1950's. This is important, because in the time since the 1950's there has been an explosion of elderly activity. Work then was often very hard and the medical care was not what we're used to today. These life and medicine issues led to shorter life-spans and a less vigorous old people.
  • Activity theory- The basis of the activity theory is the need to remain involved in activities continues into older life, but the meaning and the focus changes. Older people have the same wants, needs, and motivations as their middle-life stages match.
  • The social clock- The social clock theory describes how major life changes are expected to take place at a certain time during a person's lifetime. Societal expectations regarding when these changes should occur make up the social clock timeline. This clock provides a way of determining a person's progress within his particular age range. Those who've accomplished the expected tasks by a certain age are considered well-adjusted within society's framework, whereas those who are ahead or behind schedule are viewed as either ahead of the pack or lagging behind.