Theories of ageing

Dementia and Elderly Care, by Bethany Cutbush

Explanations of the theories of ageing

Theories of ageing

There are many theories that relate to ageing which are:

The Sociological / psychological theory's

  • Disengagement theory
  • Activity theory
  • Social creation of dependency
  • Continuity theory, which relates to the disengagement theory
The Biological theory's
  • Disposable soma theory
  • Genetically programmed theory
  • Gender differences

There are also other theory's that people have created related to ageing which are Erickson s theory and Pecks theory.

Ericksons theory Integrity vs Despair

Integrity vs despair is the eighth and final stage of Erik Eriksons theory of the psychosocial development. This stage happens during late adulthood from age 65 and over through the end of life. During this period of time, people reflect back on there life that they lived and come away with either a sense of happiness from a life well lived or a sense of regret over a life misspent.

Older people who feel proud of their achievements will feel and sense of honor. Successfully completing this phase means, looking back with a few regrets and a common feeling of satisfaction. These individuals will achieve wisdom, even when confronting death. Older people who are unsuccessful during this phase will feel that their life has been wasted and they will experience and think about many regrets. The individual will be left with feelings of bitterness and despair. (Kendra Cherry . (2015). Integrity Versus Despair. Available: Last accessed 17th March 2015.)

Erickson s theory relates to ageing because, Erik created this theory to help people understand what a older person may feel during old age and what they may be thinking because, people that are in there final life stage can be a depressing time for them, especially if they have regrets in there past and is hard to change them because, they may not have the energy and confidence to change it.

Pecks theory on ageing

Robert Peck Continued Eriksons work on ageing, Robert Peck was a psychologist and theorized on the second half of the final stage of life. He thought that personality development in older adults faced three challenges.

The first stage was on the definition of self verses a preoccupation with work roles. People who mainly thought about themselves through there career must now rethink themselves in over ways. After retirement, older people can find it difficult to find new meaning and structure while exploring other interests outside of work.

The second stage in pecks theory is body transcendence versus body preoccupation. As people age, physical abilities become more difficult in there everyday life. That period of adjustment can be difficult in which people must learn to cope and overcome physical challenges and what makes it easier for them. If one reaches body transcendence, a person has accepted the limitations of ageing and found happiness by concentrating on mental and social activities. A seniors preoccupation with their body will cause them to feel unhappy in there personality development.

The third stage is similar to Eriksons last stage of life. Elderly people must come to terms with them approaching death. A person reaches ego transcendence if the elderly person believes their life is worth living, they will live on after death. By changing the focus to the well being of others, one can avoid feeling like the person lived a worthless life. (Corie. (2010). Theories of Aging: The Second Half of Life. Available: Last accessed 17th March 2015.)

Pecks theory relates to ageing because, this theory is discussing about what personality they develop through old age when they retire from there career and what challenges they face such as, finding physical activity a challenging experience through older age. Peck was discussing about elderly people need to accept them approaching death because it is a part of life that cant be stopped, which can change there personality by, making them feel anxious and depressed.

Disengagement theory

The disengagement theory of ageing states that elderly people systematically disengage from social roles to the inevitability of death.

The disengagement theory was one of the first theories of ageing developed by social scientists. This theory was developed by Elaine Cumming and Warren Earl Henry in their 1961 book they created called Growing Old.

Disengagement theory argues that elderly people begin to remove from their previous social roles as they realize that they will die in the near future.

The disengagement theory of ageing maintains that elderly people begin to systematically disengage from previous social roles as they realize that death is in the near future.

The disengagement theory further recommends that society responds to the elders disengagement with a sort of mutual recognition that the elder will soon pass and society must prepare to function in their absence. The theory argues that it is natural and acceptable for older adults to withdraw from society. (Boundless. (2015). Disengagement Theory. Available: . Last accessed 17th March 2015.)

Disposable soma theory

Thomas Kirkwood created the Disposable soma theory of ageing related to biological in 1977. Kirkwoods idea of this theory was that organisms only have a limited amount of energy that has to be divided between reproductive activities and the maintenance of the non reproductive aspects of the organism. Kirkwood thinks ageing is the result of natural degrading processes that result in accumulation of damage, but the damage can be repaired by the organism at the expense of reproductive effort.

This theory also, in effect, merges the apparent declining force of natural selection after breeding age is reached with accumulation of damage, and recommends a relationship between reproduction and life span while staying away from conflict with traditional evolutionary mechanics theory.

This theory is based on a idea that the evolutionary value of additional life refuses following the age at which an organism achieves reproductive maturity. (Azinet. (2012). Disposable Soma Theory of Aging. Available: . Last accessed 17th March 2015.)


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