A fact that cannot be denied in today’s Western societies is that people are living longer (British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 2012) and this rise in longevity has brought about an increase in the population of the older members of our communities. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) (2012), the median age of the WHO European region is already the highest in the world. WHO states that, in 2010, the 14% increase of people aged 65 and over will rise to 25% in the year 2050. The article also states that the chances of those living longer and spending their later years in good health and well-being, vary within and between countries. The question then arises - why are some people ageing more successfully than others?
As there are several definitions of successful ageing – objective and subjective alike - an attempt will be made to define what successful ageing is and from a biological, a psychological and a sociological perspective, explain what is involved in the process of ageing1. It will also identify and examine three of several factors that successful ageing can be attributed to 2. Noting that there are several psychosocial theories of ageing (Mauk, 2002), the activity theory (Havinghurst, 1961) will be employed to help support the three factors identified that lead to successful ageing 3. There will also be a brief comparison with the disengagement theory (Cummings and Hemingway, 1961). In addition to this, the essay will also explore several aspects of how nurses can help and support elderly people age successfully 4.
Rowe and Khan’s (1998) model is widely used to give a definition of successful ageing. This model is used to distinguish between “usual ageing” and “successful ageing”. The model shows the former as a normal decline in cognitive, physical and social functioning with age, heightened by extrinsic factors. By contrast, the model shows successful ageing as a maintenance of physical and cognitive functioning and...
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