Changes that occur with the aging process fall into three categories: physical, psychological, and social. As changes begin to happen in one area of a person’s life, it is more likely that the other two will be affected as well. Aging is a process that can affect individuals between Adulthood up to the last stages; symptoms vary depending on factors such as a person’s diet, life choices, personal habits, exercise and psychological factors.
P4 - Explain two theories of ageing.
M2 - Discuss two major theories of ageing in relation to the development of the individual.
When discussing the aging process it’s important to consider the theories of ageing; there are two major theories of ageing in relation to the development of the individual which include the disengagement theory and the activity theory. I will be applying these theories in relation to Stevie Wonder.
Disengagement is a term used to describe the process whereby individuals withdraw from being socially involved with others. Disengagement is a theory that is more associated with the elderly, according to Cumming and Henry. The theory was established in 1961, it’s based on the on concept that the elderly are prone to naturally withdraw from social involvement. As individuals begin to approach older adulthood we find that interacting with others becomes restricted, this may be because of illnesses which includes poor mobility or any impairments.
Cumming debated that the aging process associated with the elderly relates to how disengaged they are; as they get older they become more disengaged, they become less concerned with the expectations of others and begin to focus more on themselves. It’s important to understand that disengagement doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative, Cumming argued that this theory is one that is a natural part of aging, and therefore he stated that it had its benefits.
Disengagement is a theory that explains why older people tend to withdraw from social occasions, evidence suggest that disengagement is a naturally part of the aging process; disengagement may occur due to an impairment, physical, intellectual, emotional or socials needs are being neglected or decaying. As individuals begin to approach later adulthood they will go through a number of bodily changes that may also cause disengagement. This theory could be argued, some clients may not encounter disengagement which would suggest that their needs are being met. Never the less, disengagement is a theory that the majority believe in, Bromley argues in 1974 that 'although some individuals fight the process all the way, disengagement of some sort is bound to come, simply because old people have neither the physical nor the mental resources they had when they were young.' The theory has some relation to the springboard model of life course, the life course explains the path of human life and what individuals should expect at various life stages; the springboard model associates with the whole theory of engagement as it suggest that loosing contact with people is a biological concern and withdrawal from others is expected when as individuals begin to age; although this supports the whole concept disengagement, it’s important to understand that the theory will not apply to everyone.
Zimbardo argued against the disengagement theory, in 1992 he debated that most individuals who were aging remained socially active with family and friends, his theory stated that the elderly became more closer to family as they went through the aging process making them more socially involved. Older adulthood is a life stage whereby individuals tend to face a number of bodily and physical changes regarding health and appearance, this is why social interaction with family members is important as it contributes to maintain well-being; Zimbardo’s debates that older people are more likely to interact with close family member rather than making new friends. This aspect of the theory can be related to disengagement, if individuals only interact with people they know are they effectively displaying social interaction? Does this display signs of disengagement? It’s important to understand that these theories and arguments will not apply to everyone, they both can be argued and have questionable aspects.
In 1966 Bromley wrote that the activity theory in elderly people is when they need to stay mentally and physically active in order to limit the risk to get illness and feel older, he agrees with the whole concept of disengagement being a natural life event that older people must go through however not to the point where they are isolating themselves. As people get older there nerve cells in the brain tend to weaken and that can cause memory loss. To promote intellectual and social development health and social care services such as care homes use activities and provisions such as board games (scrabble) group discussion and quizzes and dance movement from music, of which all prevent this disease. These activities provide mental stimulation for elderly people who may not use their mental ability in day to day life. The outcome can give individuals self-worth and a sense of accomplishment whilst partaking in these tasks. The activity theory theorises that individuals of an older age should remain active by socialising with others in their age group, although he relates some aspects of the disengagement theory into his own, he states too much disengagement could lead to stagnation; this theory is a balance of both.
Erik Erikson theorises based on his debate that older people need to develop a sense ego integrity which is the final stage of development during life, Erikson argued that older adults moved into an ego integrity versus despair stage of their development at around age 60. Ego integrity is important as it avoids the feeling of despair and generate depression in later life, Successful resolution of the crisis would result in a rounded, holistic view of life. Support such as close association with friends and family could help older adults move through this stage of development. Erikson theorized that in a society with well-adjusted older adults, children would be less likely to fear aging and death. Ego integrity includes reminiscing onto special life events as a way of improving self-esteem, stimulation and impacts social interaction. Another aspect of this theory is that individuals will be able to create a clear and meaningful sense of who they are, it’s important for the elderly to take part in reminiscence sessions and engage in telling their personal life stories as part of improving self-concept and confidence.
On the other hand we find that Coleman debates some aspects of Erikson’s theory especially regarding the whole concept of reminiscing, In 1994, Coleman agrees that reminiscing can be used as an effective way to stimulate the mind as it can be therapeutic and improves social interaction in most cases, on the other hand he considers the wide differences in individual needs; reminiscence sessions or joining a group of others to discuss life stories may not be as effective for everyone.
Stevie wonder is a 63 year old man who initially will be experiencing the different psychological changes, psychical changes and even the different aspects of theories of aging. Society and his environment will influence these aspects as he begins the aging process. The aging process involves visual bodily changes which can be challenging for someone in the public eye, growing gracefully becomes an issue as celebrities such as Stevie wonder may feel pressured to undertake plastic surgery to maintain their image. The music industry is all about image, Stevie wonder may feel insecure because the labels associated with old age tend to be very negative, older adulthoods normally face discriminatory behaviour such as stereotyping, labelling and prejudice. Old people are categorised as being 'diseased', 'useless', and ‘pathetic’ or 'demented'. This form of discrimination stereotypes these individuals as being unable to cope which effects self-concept, well-being and care; we can assume Stevie wonder has faced these types of discrimination. Stevie wonder also has a visual impairment which means he is blind, this may also trigger discriminatory behaviour such as prejudging; people may assume he is incapable because of this. Another factor that we need to be aware of when dealing with elderly people is having coping strategies and management of challenging life events such has bereavement, divorce, retirement and illness, all these influences can cause depression and affect well-being.
When considering issues that may influence Stevie wonder psychology we need to consider retirement, income, social status, class and standard of care. We can assume that Stevie wonder fulfils all these requirements to a high standard which implies his more likely to have a greater standard of life. Old age should be seen as any of the other life stages; every life stage is about ensuring personal needs are being met, if this is done we can assume that they will lead a happy and fulfilling life.
Ageing is a process that can lead to bodily changes, these bodily changes may be internal which include conditions such as asthma, arthritis and emphysema; these diseases effect the inside of an individual’s body and can cause physical changes. External bodily changes refer to physical changes which are visible, this can be skin related. For example as people age the elasticity of the skin reduces. Physical and psychological changes of ageing also include bones, joints and muscles, senses and organs. All these departments in the body begin to weaken, each function begins to fail as it can no longer repair the cells which leads to various conditions. Stevie Wonder who is 64 years of age will be going through some of the physical and psychological changes as he approaches later life stage. Physically we can see that the elastic in his skin is beginning to become thinner as his skin is wrinkled. It’s to be assumed that his bones, joints and muscles may become less dense and therefore cause fracture; joints are more stiff and painful which may affect mobility and movement. The body slowly starts to decay as joints become thinner and bones become weaker. It’s important for a man of Stevie wonders age to be active, exercise can prevent the body for experiencing these changes later rather than sooner. This can increase life span and overall improve health.
Stevie wonder has a visual impairment which means one of his senses are already gone, as he gets older he may find other senses deteriorating. It’s common for the elderly to experience the lack of taste or smell, lack of hearing and a lack of skin sensitivity. The main organs in his body will also be affected, the heart may become less efficient and pumping the blood around his body is difficult, the respiratory system begins to weaken which makes breathing challenging. Arteries can become narrow and can lead to 'clogging up' which hardens the arteries. This can have an impact on Stevie wonders blood pressure can cause conditions such as high blood pressure; which can lead to a stroke or a heart attack.