Factors and Theories of Ageing

Explaining the factors and theories of ageing

Explaining the factors which influences ageing

Ageing: the process of getting older and becoming elderly

Giddens describes ageing as the combination of biological, psychological and sociological processes that affect people as they grow older.


There are many factors that influence old age:


  • Health
  • Social skills
  • Lifestyle
  • Genes



Health: This can influence old age as well as affecting it. If you do not keep your mind or body active you will feel older inside and find it harder to get around.

Lifestyle: A person's lifestyle can affect how long they live. For example if someone abuses alcohol then they could develop alcohol related dementia also known as Korsakoff's syndrome.

Genes: This can affect a person especially if their ancestors died young due to a misspelt gene that could lie dormant and could lead to a predisposition of developing certain life-changing and life shortening conditions such as dementia.

Explaining theories of ageing

There are many types of theories for ageing. For example there is sociological/psychological which is made up of the disengagement theory and activity theory. There is also biological, for example the disposable soma theory and the genetically programmed theory.


Biological ageing is a process where there are changes in the cellular, molecular and organ levels results in a progressive decrease in the body's ability to respond appropriately to internal or external stress.

Disposable Soma Theory of Ageing: This theory talks about the fact that we have a certain amount of energy that is divided between the reproductive organs and maintenance of non-reproductive organs.

Genetically Programmed Theory: The body cannot be compared to a machine as the human body can repair itself unlike a machine. To understand ageing we have to look at a living system rather than a machine. This theory believes that ageing and death are part of evolution not biology. There is no reason that the body should wear out if it can repair and renew itself.


Disengagement Theory: This theory declares that every elderly in society experience changes that leave public roles and slim down their social life to family and friends. This benefits society as key members are not dying suddenly and involves individuals not having to die with stress from social participation.

Activity Theory: This theory believes that social activities are very important. This theory also assumes that individuals abruptly become old and leaves people alone and cut-off.