Developing Through the Life Stages

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Developing Through the Life Stages

John Glenn (1921) once said “Too many people, when they get old, think that they have to live by the calendar” and I think that this perfectly describes what society makes you believe you should be doing when you grow old, living to die. In this assignment I will discuss the two main aging theories and what they believe happens when society tells us we are too old and what they think is more effective in relation to a better life as an elderly individual. I will also discuss different things that the body goes through as it ages, the emotional and physical side. What impacts growing old have on the body inside and out.Developing Through the Life Stages

Social disengagement theory- Cummings and Henry (1961) produced the disengagement theory based on a five year study of 50-90 year olds in the US. They suggested that the elderly person makes a mutual decision to withdraw from society and social interaction. Bromley (1988) defined disengagement as; “a systematic reduction in certain kinds of social interaction. In its simplest and crudest form, the theory of disengagement states that diminishing psychological and biological capacities of people in later life necessitates a severance of the relationships they have with younger people in the central activities of society, and the replacement of these older individuals by younger people. In this way, society renews itself and the elderly are free to die”. They suggested that elderly people want to disengage from society to reflect on life and prepare for death.Developing Through the Life Stages


Activity Theory- Havighurst (1964) completely disagreed with the social disengagement theory and he argued that except for inevitable changes in biology and health older people are the same as middle-aged people with the same psychological and social needs. He said that decreased social interaction in older ages is a result of society withdrawing from the older people against the wishes of most of the elderly people. The activity theory proposes that the withdrawal is not mutual. It claims that older adults should stay active and stay involved. Many health care settings encourage the activity theory and try to keep elderly people as active as possible with things such as bingo and dancing. It is often argued by older people that they should be free to disengage if they wish and to not be forced to take part in social activity. Everybody’s personality is different and people either the maybe neither theory can fully explain successful ageing as it is up to the person themselves.

Influence the health and social care provision has on the elderly

In relation to the development of an individual, the social disengagement theory would have advantages and disadvantages. The problems with the disengagement theory are that it supports ageist attitudes towards older adults and therefore suggests that all older adults disengage from society when this is not the case so it does not take into consideration the variation of personalities. It lists older people all under the one heading whereas nobody would class middle-aged people as being the same. There is little empirical support which causes elderly people to disengage. Physically the person is not active and this could slow them down even more as it’s always good to keep active. Emotionally if the person is disengaged they are isolated and alone and may lose self-esteem and confidence in themselves which may lead to depression.Developing Through the Life Stages

A lot of people close to them may becoming ill or dying and old age can be a very emotional time. Socially disengagement cuts the person off from the rest of the world and they would not be socialising near as much as someone who is supporting the activity theory. It is positive because it can allow people to reflect on their lives and not be constrained by social roles and also be more discerning about relationships helping them to adjust to the deaths and illnesses among their peers. Physically people may want to let their bodies rest and just relax before they face death so they may not want to be active at all. Emotionally they may reflect on happy memories and a lot of older people become content in them and enjoy having peace to reflect on their life.

For elderly people who are more comfortable being alone and prefer to be free to make their own decisions about how they want to spend the rest of their life the health and social care provision must show them support if they would prefer to not participate in activity. Some people just want to relax towards the end of their life but they could possibly become too lonely and isolated. Age UK has put together a telephone befriending service that elderly people who live on their own can ring if they ever feel lonely or depressed just to speak to somebody who wants to talk to them. It can make a huge difference in somebodies day just to have someone to talk to.Developing Through the Life Stages

Home help can also make a huge difference to somebody as it supports them to stay in their own home as long as possible and allows them to be independent and look after themselves to the best of their ability. This means so much to a person’s self-esteem and confidence to be able to live in their own home and not have to move to a nursing home to be looked after. It’s all about making them comfortable and supports their choices and maybe once in a while encourages them to take part in activity but never assume just because somebody is lonely that they want to go out and meet people and take part in activity.

Physically the activity theory is beneficial for elderly people because any bit of activity is good for their bodies for keeping them fit and keeping their muscles moving. It may keep them mobile for a lot longer than if they didn’t take part in any kind of activity. Emotionally the activity theory is good because they are not alone and they are being occupied by something rather than sitting alone and thinking about death and some people might argue that sitting reflecting on your life cannot be good for your health and they may become depressed if they were really isolated. Socially it is great for elderly people because they are out mixing with people maybe younger adults and adolescents and they are not completely isolated. The activity theory would keep an elderly person up to speed intellectually as well because they giving and receiving information, talking to people and see the changes in the world. If they maybe took a computer class it would be good for them intellectually instead of maybe not even knowing what a computer is as it is a huge part of our world right now.Developing Through the Life Stages

The health and social care provision is doing so much to encourage elderly people to stay active and socialise. In care homes and even for people who live at home. In care home the nurses would put together different activities to do each say such as reading together, music, dancing, bingo. But it is also very important that the individual wants to take part and enjoys the activity because you cannot force somebody to be active unless they want to. It is very important for the body and mind to stay active so there are many different websites and groups in different areas such as day centres that elderly people can visit a few times a week to socialise to get them out of the house.


There are more assistive technologies in order to ensure that the elderly is able to stay in their own homes. There are now curtain openers, alarm systems, cameras etc. This allows the elderly to stay in the comfort of their own homes and to keep their independence which in turn boosts their moral.Developing Through the Life Stages