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).
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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 society. It is not every older person wants to sit and watch television all day every day, some still want to be active.
This theory devalues because he or she is old; it assumes that that individual has no value to the society. Gerontologist ascertain that individuals who remain sometimes engaged change their activities. They tend to seek meaningful relationships and move away from the disengagement theory altogether. Evaluation of the Disengagement Theory The disengagement theory can be evaluated in three levels relating to current approaches to aging. First is that disengagement is viewed as adaptive and presumably allows individuals to disengage from work roles and from omitting with younger people as a way of adapting to decline in physical strength.
This relates to current aging process where organization have a set cap age for retirement of the older executive to allow for a smooth transition to a younger generation of executives. Secondly, viewing disengagement as a process. Aging is a gradual process, for most people it does not occur all at once but over time. In our current society, individual realize that children are living home for school, and some grandparent decide to give up their job; feeling the need to be close and build bond grandchildren. As a process, assignment is always selective in that the individual chooses to withdraw from some roles and not from others.
Thirdly this theory views disengagement as inevitable. Eventually, every individual realizes that at some point he or she will die, aging brings about the probability of illness or death. This is the same for current aging process as individuals grow older they tend to disengage for activities that will put them in harms ways upon realizing their life space is shrinking and their energy level declining Continuity theory The continuity theory of normal aging states that older adults will usually maintain the same activities, behaviors, personalities, and relationships as they did in their earlier years of life.
According to this theory in the course of growing older, individuals are predisposed toward maintaining their stability by their habits, associations, and lifestyle they have adapted over the years (Cox, 2006). The first aspect of this theory stresses the value of continuing activities in old age or in retirement, which were of value in middle age or before retirement. It maintains that the best-adjusted individuals will replace lost roles with new ones. Secondly, it presumes that individuals engage continuously in a learning process from life experiences and intentionally continue to grow and evolve in directions of their choosing.
For example, a person who is very social at age 70 was most likely an extrovert in his or her mid-ass whereas an introverted person is most likely to be withdrawn at an old age. Personality traits sometimes become more entrenched with age. Advantages One of the advantages of the continuity theory is that it explain why personal identity is important. Personal identity is a picture of the preservation of one’s resonantly and memories, and these are the sorts of properties that every individual has a high value.
Secondly, this theory has the advantage of offering a multiplicity of adjustment patterns rather than just one form which the older individual can choose (Cox, 2006). Disadvantages First, this theory fails to demonstrate the impact of knowledge acquired from social institutions on individuals and societal aging process. Also, this theory encounters a level of difficulty in empirical testing (Cox, 2006). Evaluation of the contain duty Theory Aging is considered a very complex process and the continuity theory examines the complexity of aging in detail than any other psychosocial or sociological theories and within a more holistic framework.
It studies the process of aging as it relates to a different aspect of human existence. The continuity theory encourages the young people to examine their current behavior to understand better how every choice they make lays foundation own future old age. Simply put the behavior of the youth today is a building block for the future of his or her aging process. A person’s late life is the product of his or her lifetime personal decision made in an earlier life. Conclusively, aging is a gradual process that may bring some aspects of our individual and societal life which we are accustomed to a certain end.
However, it presents us with the opportunities to embark or new and exciting adventure. As presented in these theories, it is very for individuals to withdraw as life’s aging process brings changes to a meticulously developed way of life. This is usually in the form of limitations, loss of loved ones and sometimes uncertainty. We may not be able to stop the aging process, but we can change the way we age through perseverance; rising above those obstacles is a way to tip the scale of fate.