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Explain two theories of ageing

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  • Category: Death

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Social disengagement theory
This theory was originally proposed by Henry Williams and Elaine Cumming in 1961. According to this theory, as people age they disengage from society. This could be because older people would have restricted opportunities to connect with others. Social disengagement is a natural part of ageing where older people experience a reduction in social contact. The potential causes of disengagement could be: Ill health, this could be the loss of hearing as they wouldn’t be able to hear other people, the lack of mobility as they wouldn’t be able to go to places as easy. These make interaction with other people more difficult. Geographic mobility, many people move and retire to areas away from friends and family. Also family members move away for employment or a better lifestyle. Retirement, retirement from work means that they will have less contact with colleagues in a social setting as they aren’t seeing colleagues on a day to day basis. Ill health of family and friends, if friends and family have poor mobility or another disability they may have reduced social contact as they may not be able to see them often. Travel and technology, some older people do not have access to a car, the internet, or a mobile phone, this may limit their opportunities for social contact.

Activity theory
In 1966 Bromley argued that older people also need to remain ‘active’ to prevent disengagement going too far. Bromley said ‘It is not sufficient merely to provide facilities for elderly people. They need to be educated to make use of them and encouraged to abandon apathetic and fixed habits.’ He argued that it was important to remain mentally, physically, and socially active. Also to maintain an interest in life and enjoy the company of others. Too much disengagement may lead to ‘stagnation’ and a loss of mental and physical skills. To remain mentally active people could, play board games like scrabble, or go to quiz nights. To remain physically active people could go for a walk, by cleaning the house if they are physically capable to. To maintain socially active older people need to see friends and family.

Weekly timetable for a healthy 75 year old.

Food shopping for a week
Lay in/ relax
Go for a walk
Clothes shopping
Any NHS or other appointments
See Family
Lay in / relax
See friends
Ride on the Harley
Ride on the Harley
Look after grandchildren
Lay in/ relax
See family
Family dinner

Social disengagement theory
In this schedule there isn’t a lot of social disengagement they have 3 evenings and 3 mornings where they are just lying in or relaxing where they aren’t seeing friends or going out. However they spend most of their time out with friends and seeing family. Activity theory

They are mentally active as they go bingo which obviously numbers, they are also physically active as they go swimming, gym, go for a walk. And they are socially active as they see friends and family. However they do relax and lay in. Continuity theory

They still see family and friends and go out on a Harley Davidson rides. However they now have grandchildren which they wouldn’t have had before and look after and spend time with them.

Application to health and social provision D2
During the ageing process, the elderly may take different approaches to aging and may apply to different theories of aging such as the disengagement theory and the activity theory. All elderly individuals will deal with ageing in different ways, they may wish to stay active or they may wish to disengage themselves due to depression or they may be unable to deal with the processes of becoming older. Poverty can also be a barrier to remaining socially or physically active. If an elderly person is struggling with financial issues this can lead to depression. Both of these theories of ageing have completely different thoughts and views of the ageing process. There are many services which are available to the elderly population, these services are usually provided to help people remain active, socially, physically, emotionally and intellectually. All of these aspects are extremely important for elderly people to keep mentally and physically healthy. Day centres for the elderly

Day centres offer older people a range of activities, helping them to continue to live in their own home or with their family or carer. They may be a life line for older people who haven’t got any family nearby due to geographic mobility. Day centres provide support for a load of different circumstances such as; home care, help with washing and dressing, equipment and adaptations to help you get around at home, hot meals if you are unable to prepare your own food or advice to help you feel less isolated.

Residential care
When looking at residential care homes, they promote individuals to stay active by encouraging them to participate in activities. These stimulating activities are; dancing, playing games. As an organisation, the care home thinks that it is extremely important for residents to remain active with good health and well-being. This relates to The Activity Theory as Bromley believed it was important for individuals at the later stages of their life to remain active with the mental health which they once would have had. In contrast to this, The Disengagement Theory believed individuals became withdraw from evolvement due to that some elderly people have hearing loss or they do not have any family or friends around to talk to however it can be beneficial for both the aging individual and society that such disengagement should take place in order to minimise the social disruption caused by the older person’s eventual death.

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