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Comparing Disengagement and Continuity Theories

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Jenna Creamer

on 14 November 2013

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Transcript of Comparing Disengagement and Continuity Theories

Comparing Disengagement and Continuity Theories
Disengagement: Is it still relevant?
Pros:
-understood to be natural and normal (early retirement)
-opportunity for "personal growth and creativity" (Moody, 95).
-reminiscence "may promote better mental health in old age" (37).
Disengagement Theory...
"...looks at old age as a time when both the older person and society engage in mutual separation, as in the case of retirement from work" (Moody, 9).
related to modernization theory (the status of older people declines as societies become modernized)
signifies some sort of change, both in outward and inward behavior
Continuity Theory...
...notes that "people who grow older are inclined to maintain as much as they can the same habits, personality, and style of life they developed in earlier years" (Moody, 11).
similar to Activity Theory (the more active you are as you age, the happier you will be)
maintaining the status quo
a sudden change (forced retirement) would have a negative effect on well-being
Which theory is more accurate/relevant?
Continuity: We shouldn't generalize...
Pros:
-continued social interaction and exercise seem to contribute to life satisfaction and ultimate well-being


Conclusion
Is old age a "roleless" social role? What social norms do we expect from the elderly? To take it easy, keep on going, stay out of our way?

"Most people do not simply disengage altogether from meaningful activities" (30). Most older people"...find new friends, partially replace paid employment with useful voluntary activity, maintain some form of regular exercise, and enjoy a measure of increased leisure" (45).
However, "the ideal of active aging seems more like a prolongation of the values of middle age than something special...about the last stage of life" (11).

No single theory can explain every individual's situation.
Cons:
-hostile attitude to retirement
-"active" is more feasible for young-old than for old-old
Cons:
- theory evolved in the 1950s (outdated?)
-There are "...growing numbers of people whose behavior cannot be described as withdrawal" (Moody, 10).
Works Cited

Moody, H.R., Sasser, J.R., 2012. Aging: Concepts and
Controversies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Social Considerations for Disengagement Theory
-natural "role loss" due to late-life transitions in the life course
-decrease in starting new leisure activities and decrease in some leisure activities (movie-going, exercise, travel)
-age barrier to physical exertion
-Maintained activities: Church participation, community activities, reading, watching television
-(multidimensional disengagement in religion = they may withdraw from some activities, but show an increase in personal practice)

Biological Considerations for Disengagement Theory
-advancing age is "usually accompanied by losses in health, physical ability..." (Moody, 10)
-"natural" decline in general activity
-assumed to be "functional"
Social Considerations for Continuity Theory
-Religious activity may promote physical health:
-people who attend church have a longer life expectancy
-reduces stress
-builds self-esteem
-provides social networks
-(Moody, 32)
Biological Considerations for Continuity Theory
-goal of compression of morbidity may allow for longer ability to continue living as normal, and also:
-enhance quality of life
-extend life expectancy

However, no one can live forever! There has to be a stopping point somewhere.
Economic Considerations for Continuity Theory
What do we do with so many more active older people? They need jobs:
-age discrimination (anyone over 40 is "older") "is a real barrier preventing middle-age and older people from taking up a second career"
-no one can work forever (physical limitations)
-patterns of late-life leisure also have an economic impact (what they spend their money on)
-Americans over 50 = 40% of all consumer spending
Economic Considerations for Disengagement Theory
-(American) people over 50 cohort is a huge and growing business market
-"They command more than half of all discretionary income and account for 40% of consumer demand" (29).
-society/government must support this idle population who can't/don't work (financial support programs)


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