Armstrong Senior Housing - In gerontology, the study of aging and society, disengagement theory is a controversial model that tries to examine the way that individuals change and interact with society as they grow older. Social scientists, William Henry and Elaine Cumming developed this theory in the early 1960s. According to disengagement theory, individuals tend to draw away from society as they get older. Although this theory has its supporters, it has been disputed by lots of scientists in the field.
In the middle part of the-1900s, when this theory was more popular, a lot of its supporters believed that this was a great model to explain how individuals prepared themselves for death. Older adults gradually let go of society, purportedly preparing them to let go of life as well. The researchers suggested that this was helpful to society in allowing younger people to grow into various life roles. For example, younger individuals could build up connections and networks as the older generation's networks get smaller. Additionally, when an older adult retires from a job it enables a younger person to enter into the workforce.
In several cases, this apparent withdrawal happens from both sides. Society may be less inclined to engage with and include older individuals, while at the same time, an older person might be less likely to engage society. The scientists suggested that this was a general result of people realizing their limitations as they get older, thus making way for younger generations to fill their societal roles. Within disengagement theory, older individuals become more fragile as they grow old and they become less enthusiastically involved in their social circles. Rather than being voluntary, critics have pointed out, much of the disengagement tends to be forced. Like for example, if somebody has to move into an assisted living or nursing home facility, their social circle may lessen since their friends might not be able to visit them as frequently, or they might start to die, leaving the individual with fewer social connections.
The attitude towards the seniors and the way they must be cared for varies a lot, which depends on the society a person resides in. When disengagement theory was in its early developmental stages, there was a monumental shift happening in society when it comes to where older people resided. For hundreds of years, older adults lived at home and were taken care of by their families. Then again, this was rapidly shifting towards a tendency for older individuals to be place into nursing or assisted living facilities which often separated them from their social networks and families.
Providing a reason that society could be less hospitable to the seniors is amongst the main criticisms of disengagement theory. It could also be used as an excuse as to why it is harder for older individuals to take part in social activities, rather than society finding ways to overcome several of those barriers. For instance, people who have recently had a joint replacement surgery often become isolated. This isolation is usually not what the individual really wants, but rather, it becomes very difficult for them to engage in their usual activities. They may not be able to find the right transportation or it may be too expensive. In addition, the individuals who they will normally socialize with might have health issues of their own that prevent them from being social. Adults may belong to social organizations that don't accommodate their needs as they age.
Because of the many flaws that gerontologists, sociologists, and elder rights activists have seen with this theory, it remains quite controversial. When deciding where an older person should reside, their rights and preferences must be at the top of the list of considerations.
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