Theories of Ageing

Robyn Kiff. Dementia & Elderly Care. Task 3. Unit 28 - P1 P2

There are many different theories of ageing, and I will be speaking about some of the sociological/psychological theories and the biological theories. The sociological/psychological include the disengagement theory, the activity theory and the social creation of dependence theory. The biological theories include disposable soma theory, genetically programmed theory and gender differences.


It all depends on what type of person you are as a middle aged and older adult to how your elderly life will plan out. If you are more active and always on the go then you’re more likely to carry on that way when you are older Whereas if you don’t do very much when you are middle aged and older adult then you have less of a chance to maintain health throughout elderly stage, therefore influencing your ageing.

The disengagement theory supports the beliefs that the elderly disengage from all their social skills due to them being lead to their death. This is because they believe that the society has the wrong attitude towards the elderly as their is nothing in the society for them to get involved into. For example all the elderly are expected to retire therefore society is forcing them to slow down which withdraws them from the society.

The activity theory is the opposite to the disengagement theory as it highlights the positive effects in ageing well and keeping active. They represent those people who are elderly and have retired, yet they get out and join groups to keep fit like a walking club, or those who volunteer in their local primary school or in a charity shop. This means that they are still being social, and they are also being active therefore they won't age quickly.

The Social creation of dependency theory is one that links psychology and socialising together with the effect of the media’s influences. It also helps to understand what caused the influences. It suggests that many people rely heavily on the media to find their achievements in their own lives. This is all regarded to beliefs, challenges, and choices with the information from the media. This is involved with ageing as your decisions change as you get older, and it may be a situation where someone is unable to make a decision for themselves.


The biological theories of ageing are ones that happen in the body or occur to the body. There are many things regarding the body that result in you ageing faster.

The disposable soma theory explains suggests that the organisms in the body can only last for a certain amount of time as that are only able to be repaired so many times. This means that they run out of energy to be able to reproduce more cells to keep the body going. It also suggests that the ageing process has an effect on the life span and reproduction. Once someone can no longer reproduce due to nature, then they start to deteriorate from then on as their job in the natural world has been achieved.

There is a theory that suggests that you can programme your own lifestyle, and create specific effects on the genes. This is called the genetically programmed theory. It explains that the human body is like a machine almost like a clock ticking over again and again. This theory helps us understand that the cells in our bodies are just the same as a clock ticking over and over again as they replace and repair themselves. Therefore this theory proposes that the ageing process as we get closer to the end of life is due to wear and tear as this is a process of nature and genetics.

Another theory is the gender differences. This theory explains that the different genders age in a different way. Men take to ageing better physically but not emotionally, yet women are the opposite. Therefore this theory explains how the gender influences the ageing process.