I’m writing about two theories to help understand the
physical and phycological changes that happen when aging. One theory is The
Social disengagement theory by Elaine Cumming and William Earle Henry. The
other is activity theory of aging by Havighurst.
The Social disengagement theory Elaine Cumming and William
Earle Henry focuses on the disconnection from society when you get older and how
it is seen as acceptable. They believe that when you get older, everyone stops
having social interactions with the people and friends around them because they
expect death and they do not engage as much with others because their abilities
worsen over time. Both theorists believe that older people become more
independent and do not focus on social expectations. It is believed that
complete disengagement occurs when the individual and society are ready. This
is because they have found new roles making sure they do not become
demoralized. Disengagement occurs when you are aware of the brief time you have
left, and the person loses their ego energy. It is said that disengagement
happens within all cultures but is unique for each. The overall theory is that
older people decline with age and disconnect with the outside world.
Disengagement occurs and is useful because its believed to transfer the power
from the older people to younger.
Many people disagree with this theory. Elaine Cumming and
William Earle Henry assume older people are unable to carry out their previous
roles. Others believe that many older people are able to continue achieving
their previous roles well. Its been argued that society may suffer if elderly
people do disengage. This is because wisdom and insight will be lost.
The activity theory by Havighurst focuses on keeping elderly people
active for a better life. Havighurst believes that those who stay active in
their later life would be more satisfied and more adjusted than those who are
inactive. People should replace roles they are unable to do, with new ones.
This helps to keep their place in society. It is also believed to help delay
the effects of old age and for people to age successfully. The best activities
for elderly people to do should involve socialising with a group of friends.
This helps to improve mental and physical health as well as social skills. He
believes that older people have the same needs as a middle-aged person when it
comes to activities.
There are people who disagree with this theory. This is because as you
get older your physical abilities are not as good as they used to be. Some
elderly people find it difficult to keep up with their original roles and
struggle to follow the activity theory.
the Physical and Psychological Changes Which May Be Associated with Ageing.
Physical and psychological systems change as you age. When you are
older, you are more vulnerable to these changes and how they effect you.
As we get older, the muscles in the heart become tighter and the size
could slightly increase. Due to the heart wall thickening, the blood that can
be held in the heart decreases. The resting heart rate and the blood that is
pumped around the body stays the same, but the heart rate will decrease. Due to
the decrease in heart rate, the risk of strokes or heart attacks are higher.
The blood vessels also become stiffer. They respond less to the
chemicals that relax the walls of the blood vessels. This makes blood pressure
higher and this also gives a higher risk if stroke, heart attacks and kidney
Atherosclerosis is a disease
that’s can be caused from the changes to the cardiovascular system when aging.
This is where plaque builds up on the artery walls, making them narrow. This
makes it difficult for the blood to flow fluently and easily and causes
complications that could lead to a stroke.
When we get older or lungs become less flexible and the chest wall
becomes rigid. Lung capacity is constant but the volume of air that’s exhaled
will decrease due to the air left in our lungs increasing. This makes It harder
to control your breathing. Older adults are less efficient in monitoring and
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is caused by problems
with the respiratory system. It is a group of lung diseases that makes it
difficult to breathe due to poor airflow. This is casued by the airways
narrowing because the lining could be inflamed, or the tissue is damaged making
it difficult to pull on the airways.
Our nervous system and brain control our bodies senses, movement and
thoughts/memories. As we get older the spinal cord loses nerve cells. This is
because the disk between the back bone becomes hard. This results in pressure
being put on the spinal cord and an outcome from this is little feeling in the
spine, loosing balance and less strength. Our brains are also affected. This is
because nerve cells pass messages slower also as a result of waste product
collecting in the brain tissue from the nerve cells breaking down. The
breakdown of these nerves also affects the senses. The speed of our reflexes,
reaction time and movement will decrease because the nerves processes are
slower. Other problems with our brain occur such as short-term memory and
verbal/word usage declines, which increases the risk of dementia.
When we are older we lose approximately 2 inches in height. The main
reason for this is because of the change in posture. Gradually, bone mass will
decrease which causes the balance of bone producing cells and bone absorbing
cells to become uneven, When the bone stops growing, it starts to become thin.
The older we get, the weaker our bones become and eventually the smallest
incident can cause a fractured or broken bone.
Menopause, Hormone Changes and Skin
Menopause happens because the change
of balance in the body. As you get older, your ovaries do not produce as much
oestrogen and eggs are not released each month. Menopause causes many different
changes in the body, including weight gain because of the change of hormone
levels and metabolism. The decline in estrogen
levels is the main reason for fat storage in the lower body. Although many
women gain weight, others lose the fat under the face, neck, hands and arms
that supports them. This is the reason for the skin losing its elasticity and
The change in hormones also causes
hot flushes. This is where there’s an overwhelming feeling of warmth which then
also causes sweating and oily skin. This then causes an increase of androgens
such as testosterone, which creates a deeper voice and facial hair, especially
around the chin area.
Menopause also makes you more
vulnerable to sun damage. The cells that make Melanin (Melanocytes), is
controlled my estrogens during menopause.
The further into menopause, the more melanocytes are lowered. This creates
lighter skin making skin more prone to sun damage.
the Effects on Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence of the Physical Changes Associated
As you grow older your appearance and health changes which may leave
some people with low self-esteem and confidence.
Appearance is the main cause for people to lack confidence. As we get
older, our skin loses elasticity resulting in wrinkles. Our teeth also fall out
or are unstable because of weak gums. This leaves people feeling self-conscious
because they feel that its obvious that they are looking older. Its also known
that when we get older, our senses are not as good as they used to be. It
becomes harder to hear and see. If people have to keep asking for others to
repeat or mistaken something due to bad vison, they may become embarrassed. Some
people may also lower their self-esteem if they have to wear a hearing aid or
glasses because they know it’s a sign of them getting older.
When we get older, our bodies come across more problems than when we
are younger. Arthritis makes it difficult for people to do things for
themselves. This is because arthritis is where the joints are damaged from
cartilage thinning and loosing elasticity. It can be very painful because the
bones become weaker, so people feel they have to rely on others more to do everyday
tasks. It lowers self-esteem, especially because they feel as if they are no
Dementia is stressful for those suffering. Dementia makes it harder
for people to remember their memories and they may eventually forget most
things or everything important to them. During early stages, they will feel low
because they realise they might not remember those closest to them. People
might also feel vulnerable, especially if they are going to be put in a
residential home. Most people will worry that they won’t get the proper
attention and respect that they deserve. This leaves them with the added
anxieties of what will come in their future.
Elderly people are more aware of the possible illnesses or problems
they can encounter due to the changes with their cardiovascular system and respiratory
system. It can cause them to be less confident in doing activities they enjoy
or going out because they are at a higher risk of having a heart attack or
Retirement gives people more time to do the things that they’ve always
wanted to do or to spend time with those that mean most to them. Theres many
advantages to retirement but if you are unable to do things because of
illnesses, people may feel as if their time is wasted. Without work, theres no regular income which
may make it harder to deal with their life changes or just making it difficult
to pay for everyday needs such as heating, shopping and finances. Others may
have to start paying for them which could leave them feeling guilty. It also
lowers self asteem again because they have little independence.