Factors and theories of ageing

Explaining two theories

What is old age?

Old age is described as the last period of human life, now often considered to be the years after 65. This when the body begins to weaken and loses the ability to do what it once could. Other signs of old age are frail bones, wrinkled skin, grey hair all factors that a individual is developing into older ageing.

In 1961, the first theory of ageing was formulated by Cumming and Henry. According to them “aging is an inevitable, mutual withdrawal or disengagement, resulting in decreased interaction between the aging person and others in the social system he belongs to”. ( www.sciences360.com)


  1. Disengagement Theory is a model originally proposed in 1961 by William Henry and Elaine Cumming, two social scientists interested in studying ageing and the way interactions with other people change as people grow older. According to their theory, as people age, they tend to withdraw from society, and this can be mutual, with society being less likely to engage with and include older people. They argued that this was a consequence of people learning their limitations with age and making way for new generations of people to fill their roles. The study of ageing and society, disengagement theory is controversial, and many people do not agree with it.The disengagement theory of ageing states that "ageing is an inevitable, mutual withdrawal or disengagement, resulting in decreased interaction between the ageing person and others in the social system he belongs to". The theory claims that it is natural and acceptable for older adults to withdraw from society.When people grew older they naturally disengage from social contact with other people due to these reasons:Ill- health : They may have health problems or diseases that stop them from interacting with other people. It could be hearing impairment or visual impairment.

CONTINUITY THEORY , the continuity theory states that individuals who age successfully continue habits, preferences, lifestyle, and relationships through midlife and later. Again, this theory makes a certain kind of intuitive sense. People who are doing well in midlife, who are happy, healthy, and just plain dandy should carry over the habits and ideals that made them that way.

FACTORS INFLUENCING AGEING Travel and technology : Some older people don’t know how to use computers or phones. Nowadays, computers and phones are the most important thing to have as it will help you connect or communicate with your loved ones, friends and relatives. (travel) they may be too tired to travel or finds it difficult to travel i.e they don’t have a car.Geographical mobility : They may move to a place that is quiet and peaceful as they easily become irritated with noisy environment. It could also be family members have their own family and they want privacy or they move away to find a better job in another place. Retirement : It is when they stop working completely as they will not be able to do their job as effective as before due to ageing. This mean that they will no longer or less contact with their colleagues.


The activity theory is one of three major psychosocial theories which describe how people develop in old age.The activity theory occurs when individuals engage in a full day of activities and maintain a level of productivity to age successfully. Activity theory is a counterpoint to disengagement theory, since it claims that a successful old age can be achieved only by maintaining roles and relationships. (Powell, 2006, p.49)

It means that if older people will remain physically and mentally active and maintain social interactions their happiness will increase and this will also prevent them from disengagement.This theory believes that retiring from work is a good opportunity for older people to engage with the activities that they haven’t experienced when they were young. They have enough time to travel to places that they love to go, buy things that they like, and do the things that they want to experience.The theory also fails to consider maintenance of one's mid-life or changes that are made when entering retired or older life.