Factors of Ageing

What is ageing?

Ageing is the process of growing old. Everyone has different views of when they grow old and people cannot determine whether you are old or not.
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What happens as you age?

As you progress through life and get older your features change. This can include your skin becoming thinner and less elastic which causes wrinkles. It also is drier as less oil and sweat is produced. Bones can become more predominant and visible as less fat is stored below the skin and inside the body these bones become weak. Big factors that come with ageing is that your memory gets worse and the immune system finds it harder to fight off disease. (Science Museum; 2015)
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What makes you age?

As more cells are lost within the body, this is a sign of ageing. We know that the body is made up of around 100 million cells and some of our brain cells are rarely replaced. Each cell can only replace itself a certain number of times before it dies. Therefore as more cells are lost or damaged, this is your body ageing. (Science Museum; 2015)

Erickson's Stages of Ageing

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Stage 1 - Trust vs Mistrust

A newborn child settling in to their new surroundings can be frightful, they look to their primary caregiver in Erikson's first stage as they provide them with the stability and consistency of care as the infant can be uncertain of the world we live in. This stage is known as infancy which happens within a year or so.

If the care given to the child is affectionate, reliable and consistent they develop some form of trust which will they will carry with them to other relationships. This means they feel secure even when they are threatened.

Success of this stage eventually leads to the virtue of hope. The trust that has developed in the infant gives it hope as a new crisis arises, the trust can be placed with other people to give them support. Failing to acquire this virtue can lead to a sense of fear.

Whereas if the care has been harsh and inconsistent, this will develop mistrust in the infant but also they will lack confidence in society. The form of mistrust will be carry onto other relationships which could result in anxiety and heightened insecurities. (Simply Psychology; 2013)

Stage 2 - Autonomy vs Shame

Age 1-3, the infant is continually developing and becoming more mobile which means they are becoming more independent. Skills and abilities can include taking steps without their mother, picking up toys, choosing clothes. This illustrates the child's growing sense of independence and autonomy. The parent allows the child to do things for themselves, even allowing them to fail. For example rather than putting on the child's clothes for them, they let them struggle or wait until they ask for assistance. They allow them their independence but help when needed to protect them from constant failure.

If at this stage the child is criticized, given too much support or controlled they can feel inadequate and become overly dependent on others, lack self-esteem and feel a sense of shame in their own abilities.

If successful they acquire the virtue of will which is being accepted and accepting the circle of life. This means they have the will power to be successful in their develop. (Simply Psychology; 2013)

Initiative vs Guilt

The most active stage between 3-6 where the child is more assertive. They are very lively and like to explore. At school, they will have engaged in friendships using their interpersonal skills through activities. This initiative will give them ideas to make up games and plan activities which will help them to feel secure and have the ability to take the lead and make decisions.

Again if the child is criticized or controlled, they will develop the feeling of guilt. The child can feel they are a nuisance to others and lack the self initiative so remain following other people. (Simply Psychology; 2013)

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Industry vs Inferiority

At this stage, the child will be developing their knowledge for example learning to write, read and do things on their own. The teacher is their guidance and they begin to take an important role on the child's life. The child will gain a greater significance which is a source of their self esteem. If the child is encouraged to make their own initiative, they begin to feel confident and industrious to achieve their goals.

Whereas if the child is restricted by the parent/teacher, the child can begin to feel inferior, doubting their own abilities and therefore lacking the ability to reach their full potential.

Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of competence. (Simply Psychology; 2013)

Identity vs Role Confusion

12-18, the adolescence stage, it is the transition from childhood to adulthood which is the most important. There is whole new level of independence and now it's time to determine their future for example career, relationships, families and housing. For every child this is their own choice to make their mark on society and fit in. By this stage, you are learning the skills for adulthood.

You may not feel comfortable in your own body until you can adapt and grow into the changes. Success in this stage leads to fidelity.

Opposite to this, they can have a form of role confusion in which the adult can experiment with different lifestyles but the pressure of being successful and choosing who you want to be can cause them to rebel against the norm of society. (Simply Psychology; 2013)

Intimacy vs Isolation

Now we're into adulthood, we start to share ourselves more intimately with others which can often lead to longer commitments with someone other than a family member.

Completion of this stage allows us to be committed and comfortable with someone else on that level, enough that we feel safe with them. Avoiding commitment, relationships and intimacy can lead to isolation, loneliness and sometimes depression.

The virtue at this stage is love if completed. (Simply Psychology; 2013)

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Generativity vs Stagnation

Between the ages of 40-65, by now they would have established their career, settled down in a relationship, began to make their own families and developed a great outlook on life.

By raising children, going to work and being productive we give back to our community and society throughout our lives. Whereas if we fail to do this, we become stagnant and unproductive. If successful in this stage, they will acquire the virtue of care. (Simply Psychology; 2013)

Ego Integrity vs Despair

Senior citizens, 65+, tend to slow down with their productivity as their body can no longer handle it. They can explore life more as a retired person and look back on our accomplishments.

We can often feel dissatisfied as we grow old, we contemplate whether we achieved our goals or if we have been unproductive, feel a form of guilt about our past. This can lead to a form of despair which can lead to depression and hopefulness.

Completion of this stage will lead to the virtue of wisdom. This enables a person to look back on their experiences with a sense of closure and completeness. The main closure here is accepting death. (Simply Psychology; 2013)


What is Ageism?

This is being prejudice or discriminating someone due to their age. This can impact an individuals confidence, job prospects, financial situation and quality of life.

Older people may experience...

  • Losing a job because of their age
  • Being refused car insurance, credit cards, interest free credit or travel insurance
  • Receiving poor service for example in a restaurant because of the organisations opinion on older people
  • Not being eligible for benefits for example Disability Living Allowance
  • Refused a membership from a club or association
  • Being refused the right medical treatment as you are 'too old'

Under the Equality Act 2010, there is some protection from ageism for example in employment, training, education and memberships in clubs and associations but this does not protect the elderly from everything. (Age UK; 2015)

Government Perspective

It is a known fact that the population is ageing not only because we are living longer, but people are changing the way they spend later life. It isn't only about looking at the health, social care and welfare systems and how they help individuals to live a happy independent life but also that we need to maintain a socially engaged perspective on life.

Now more than ever, people aged 65 and over are giving back to the community and being productive by either staying in their careers or volunteering.

There are implications with an ageing population for example the way skills and training provision are delivered. We need to be trained into this 'life course' to ensure that everyone benefits from it and so that the skills does not go above the ageing process and the people in it. Policies and programmes should stay up to date to support individuals at each area of life, throughout their life.

The Government feel that we need to understand these changes on a local level and responding to the different communities in the UK. We need to learn from local initiatives to see what works best so that it can be scaled up on a national level.

The Government Office for Science's Foresight on the Future of Ageing is building an understanding of life for older people. This is by looking at both what's going on now and predicting the future. By doing this it will allow the Government to enforce the correct policies that will help to improve the ageing experience. Most of all it's about making this ageing process a positive one for society and the citizen's of all ages. (Gov.uk; 2014)

What do we do now for the elderly?

Firstly are entitled to a state pension. This is a regular payment made by the state to the individuals who have reached the official retirement age. The most you can currently get per week is £115.95. Every year the state pension can increased depending on whichever is highest. This accounts for earnings which is the average percentage growth in wages in the UK or the percentage growth in prices in the UK as measured by the Consumers Price Index (CPI). The day you receive your state pension depends on where the last two digits of your national insurance fall. (Gov.uk; 2015)

You can also be entitled to a free bus pass, free medical prescriptions, dental and eye checks.

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