Theories of Ageing

Explain the theories of ageing

What is 'old age' or 'elderly'?

"Most developed world countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as 'elderly'."
- Reference One

What are the theories?

There are a few theories that explain ageing.

There are Sociological/Psychological theories, and examples of these are:

  • The Disengagement Theory
  • The Activity Theory.

There are also Biological theories, and examples of these are:

  • The Disposable Theory
  • The Genetically Programmed Theory

How do they relate to ageing?

The Disengagement Theory believes as people age, they tend to disengage from society and from social interactions as they know they're coming towards the end of their life. As society goes, it mutually recognises that older people are coming to the end of their lives and that society cannot depend on them and must prepare to function without them. This theory believes that it is natural for the elderly to separate from society.
- Reference Two and Three

The Activity Theory believes that to increase happiness among older adults they must keep both physically and mentally active. According to this theory, the elderly are most happiest when they stay active and maintain good social interactions. This theory was developed in response to The Disengagement Theory.

- Reference Four

The Disposable Soma Theory believes that organisms only have a limited amount of energy and that they eventually weaken and then die. This theory states that ageing is the result of the natural degrading processes that result in the accumulation of damage.

- Reference Five

The Genetically Programmed Theory believes that ageing and death are necessary parts of evolution (and not of biology). If a species did not have the genetic capacity for ageing and death, then it would not be forced to replicate (the cells) to survive. Individuals would just keep on living until a climate or other change wiped them all out. The key point is that there would be no evolution if individuals lived forever. Ageing, therefore, must be built-in in the organism and not simply a result of environmental factors or disease. According to this theory then, ageing and death are not a result of wear and tear (like other theories suggested) or exposure, but are a programmed, natural and essential part of genetics. Conclusively, we are programmed to age and die.

- Reference Six

Lauren Hewitt

Task Three - Factors and Theories of Ageing
Dementia and Elderly

Submission Date: 4th May 2015.