Theories of Ageing

Four theories of Ageing:

Activity theory- The activity theory appears when humans engage in day to day activities and maintain a level of productivity to age successfully. The activity theory was developed by Robert J. Havighurst, it is response to the disengagement theory. The activity theory believes that the more activities you do; the better you will age. By doing this individuals remain active, and tend to be happier and healthier. The activities that are taken place can help the elderly replace lost life roles after retirement. However, the activity theory does fail to understand that old people may not be able to do many activities;, do to their physical changes.


Disengagement theory- The disengagement theory was one of the first ageing theories to be developed; it was developed by Elaine Cumming and Warren Earl Henry. This theory states that elderly people systematically disengage from social roles due to them knowing about their death being in the near future. The theory also suggests that the society responds to the elderly person by reconsigning that their are going to pass away; and they have to start preparing for their departure. The theory consists of nine postulates to explain why it is normal for the elderly who know their death is near to begin to disengage. The disengagement theory can be beneficial as it avoids disruption of the individual dying suddenly.


Continuity theory- The continuity theory states that the elderly maintain the same activities, behavior and relationships of the past. According to the continuity theory adults try to maintain this continuity of lifestyle by adapting strategies that are linked to their past experiences. The continuity theory uses a life course perspective to define normal aging. However the theory neglects to consider chronically ill individuals. Another weakness of this theory is that it fails to demonstrate how social institutions impact the individuals and the way they age.


Genetic theory- The genetic theory of ageing believes that the lifespan of an individual is determined by the genes we inherit. The theory states that our potential age is determined when conception is taken place. Evidence of this theory could be that peoples parents that live longer, may also live longer if they live the same lifestyle. The genetic theory of ageing centers on telomeres ( these are repeated segments of DNA which occur on the ends of chromosomes). The number of repeats in a telomore tell us the maximum lifespan of a cell.

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