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Theories Of Ageing

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Introduction

Theories Of Ageing Holly Exell Assignment 1 15/02/06 What is 'old age'? The decay or decline of physical and mental wellbeing, social relationships or intellect? Or, increased free time, time to focus on the things most important in life and fewer responsibilities? This essay will take a look at these questions by analysing firstly the negative view of ageing, known as, the 'decrement model' and then the more positive view of ageing, known as, the 'personal growth' model. Growing old has had and most probably still has, very negative connotations. This negative view of ageing is based on the decrement model. It is in huge contrast to the other view that stresses the potential advantages of old age known as the personal growth model. The decrement model views ageing as "a process of decay or decline in our physical and mental health, our intellectual abilities and our social relationships." (Gross, 2005) This model of ageing is displayed most commonly through media and advertising, where old people will be characterised as hard of hearing, bent over, using a stick to walk and suffering from dementia. (Dyson, 1980), suggested that one of the main reasons older people do not challenge this view is because they actually hold it themselves. ...read more.

Middle

Unless we know how an individual performed earlier on in life it is impossible to know whether or not intelligence declines with age. (Gross, 2005) These statements can be supported when looking at the effects our western society has on older people. For example, particular social meanings are associated with particular ages i.e. at 16 you can leave school and work full- time, at 18 you can buy and drink alcohol in a bar. However, at 60 for women, or 65, for men, you have to take compulsory retirement and become a 'pensioner'. There is often stigma attached to receiving a pension and when people are in this position they are usually in a state of dependency. Many older people want to remain independent, not wanting to be a burden on others. As cited in (Gross, 2005) Cumming and Henry's (1961) social disengagement theory relates to the elderly after retirement, children growing up and leaving home and so on it involves the withdrawal of society from the individual. "As far as society is concerned, the individual's withdrawal is part of an inevitable move towards death - the ultimate disengagement." (Manthorpe, 1994). "By replacing older individuals with younger people, society renews itself and the elderly are free to die." ...read more.

Conclusion

One organisation is the University of the Third Age (www.u3a.org.uk), which has shown that the period after retirement can be a very positive one, bringing opportunities to learn and take up new hobbies. Age concern (www.ageconcern.org.uk) also provide services for older people, such as, specialist day clubs, lunch clubs, library books for the housebound living in rural areas, a counselling service and many more. From observing all angles of the different attitudes to ageing it can be seen that it is normally socially determined. Individuals tend to have a fear of growing old and it is not a concept that is generally welcomed. Old age is becoming more acceptable and it is becoming clearer that old age brings with it, increased free time for the elderly and that where possible they are self governed. It can be observed that people see a small percentage f elderly people as frail and they assume similarity amongst the population of the aged. Ageing should be recognised as a celebration of achievements through long life as opposed to a view of the elderly as a drain on the economy. Due to the change in family patterns and the segregation of the community, many older people need to be supported and empowered by society. Evidence shows that the elderly constitute a large group within our society and service delivery needs to be developed in order to cope. ...read more.

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