Theoretical Perspective on Aging
November 17, 2014
Theoretical Perspective on Aging
Aging process is a natural process of life every individual is bound to experience. When individuals grow old and retire, they expect to remain independent, and live life as they have in the past. However, because of some unforeseen illness some individuals may lose some of those independence, and require the help of close relative and sometimes home care facilities. This transition comes with physical and emotional stress for some adult, and other can handle the transition without problem. This is where gerontology as a study is very functional. According to Novak 2009, "gerontology can help many individuals understand current social issues that occur from aging" (p.2). For health professional (nurses, physician, gerontologist alike), having an understanding of the aging process from different perspectives helps in creating a conducive and healthy lifestyle for the elderly. In this paper, a theoretical perspective of aging is presented with an interest in two psychosocial theories of aging. The Disengagement Theory and the Continuity Theory. Also, it will explore the major aspects of each theory including the advantages and disadvantages. Finally, an evaluation of how these theories relate to the current approaches to aging is presented. Disengagement Theory
Disengagement theory is one of the first explicitly stated psychosocial theory of aging to appear in the literature. As one of the earliest and most influential theories in gerontology, this theory states that aging involves an inevitable withdrawal, or disengagement, resulting in decreased interaction with those in the aging person’s social milieu (Cox, 2006, Chapter 3). The first aspect of the disengagement theory is the basic assumption of the theory that both the individual and society are gratified by disengagement. For the individual, withdrawal brings a release from societal pressures for continued high-level productivity. For society, the withdrawal of older members presumably allows younger, more energetic, competent, and recently trained persons to assume the roles that must be filled. The second aspect of this theory is the aspect that sees the disengagement of the elderly members of society as a necessity for the survival of the social system. It portrays societal disengagement as an example of sociological functionalism that view the elements and members of society as functionally interdependent. According to Cox, 2006 "Specific behavior patterns within a social system can be regarded as either functional or dysfunctional. Functional patterns help to maintain the society and to integrate its elements; dysfunctional patterns promote social breakdown. Thus, many would argue that the disengagement of older Americans is functional, or useful, for society since it allows a smooth transfer of power to younger people. Advantages
One advantage of the disengagement theory is its adaptability from both individual and societal perspective. According to Victor (2005), disengagement is seen as adaptive for both society and individuals. It permits the younger employees in an organization to assume critical positions previously held by older employees as a result of them becoming less efficient; allowing for a smooth transition of power from one generation to the next. Another advantage is that this theory proposes that disengagement at old age gives individuals time to bond with relatives. Disengagement at a time of declining energy and health is believed by some gerontologist to allow the retention of meaningful family relationships at a relatively undiminished level as long as possible” (Cox, 2006). Disadvantages
One of the disadvantages of this theory is that it denies individuals the right to choice at old age. As much as society wants individuals to relegate their duties, some people are invaluable and may still have some good contribution to the...
References: Cox, H. (2006). Later Life: The Realities of Aging, (6th Ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.
Novak, M. (2009). Issues in aging (2nd. Ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.
Victor, C. (2005). The Social Context of Ageing: A Textbook of Gerontology. Abingdon, UK: Oxfordshire.
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