Two types of theories

Activity theory and Disengagement theory

Activity theory

The activity theory of ageing states that older adults are much happier when they are keeping active and are able to maintain their social interactions.


It supports the maintenance of regular roles and activities. As roles change, the person may find substitute activities for certain roles. The greater the activity the greater the satisfaction.


This theory was developed by Robert J. Havighurst as a response to the Disengagement theory of ageing.

Disengagement theory

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".


For an elderly to disengage from society naturally as they begin to become aware of being closer to death is what this theory suggest. It is the withdrawal from society. It states that disengaging from society as older adults is beneficial, it is considered necessary for ageing to be successful. The reduction of social contact is desirable and natural.


It is one of the first theories of ageing that has been developed by social scientist. This theory was formulated by Cummings and Henry .