Aged Care

6 Pages   |   1,528 Words

Ageing – Psychosocial, Behavioral & Biological Effects

Introduction

Aging is a progressive irreversible biological process in most organisms which ends with the death of the organism. The maximum life span, an individual can achieve is largely determined by age. Aging is a physiological process and a fundamental part of life of all higher organisms. Ageing is considered as one of the least understood phenomena of biology. Ageing influences and limits the lifetime of biological systems such as cells, structured organs, tissues and organisms (Johnson, Bengtson, & Coleman, 2005). There are several aging theories, however none of them to date have been scientifically proven or widely accepted. The concept of aging describes one or more functional changes within an individual which gradually reduces the ability to perform various functions.

In the case of humans, ageing is the process which is natural and accelerated by various forms stress suffered throughout life. Among humans, aging is a complex, slow and gradual process, involving various biological, psychological and social changes. At the sociological level, researchers seek to show that aging is a social construct. On the other hand, in view of biologists, factors responsible for ageing are partly genetic (intrinsic aging), and partly linked to the history of life for everyone (Johnson, Bengtson, & Coleman, 2005). The aging of certain cells begin at birth or within uterus. For this reason, there are several definitions of aging depending on the approach of the scientific discipline. The paper evaluates various perspectives on aging and correlates them with each other.
 

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Discussion

Since ageing is a universal process of decline of physical and mental activities, significant research work has been done on the subject of ageing by scientists belonging to different schools of thought. The mass of the brain decreases, gradually and surely, about 10%, throughout life. It is important to note that the death of neurons do not occur at the same rate and on the same regions in all people. This loss occurs mainly in the outer layers of association, leaving the internal parts intact. But the loss of brain weight with age is less significant than the loss in quality and quantity of neuronal connections which allow a neuropathologist - through dissection and observation – to determine age.

Biological Effects of Aging various biological effects of aging are observed in humans even from the early periods of life.  The lens of the eye begins to shirk from the age of eleven. Different physiological systems of human body including vascular, cardiac, cerebral, neurosensory, bone structure begin to show physical evidences of aging from 18-20 years (Liang & Luo, 2012). Lungs of humans begin to lose elasticity with aging. The elasticity of chest wall is greatly diminished with age. At the same time, there is a loss of lung elastic recoil and decreased respiratory muscle strength. Within the cardiovascular system, pulmonary arterial blood flow decreases and pulmonary artery pressure increases with age. Within the circulatory function of the human body, hypertension increases with age and atherosclerosis appears (Yu & Chung, 2006). In contemporary societies, diabetes often occurs and results in a gradual obstruction of the vessels capillaries.

Locomotor function of the human body is also impacted.  Aging bones are characterized by a decrease in bone anabolism, which can lead to osteoporosis and osteomalacia. Similarly, aging joints characterized by arthritis while muscle aging is characterized by sarcopenia resulting in decreased strength muscle (Liang & Luo, 2012). Biological impacts are perhaps the most visible aspects of aging in humans. Strength, speed, flexibility and coordination of muscles visibly decrease with age. Perceptual capabilities reduce sensory abilities leading to postural instability, and a hearing impairment (Yu & Chung, 2006).

A very interesting impact to aging is disproportion is body ligament. Certain cartilaginous parts of human body – for instance, nose and ears – continue to grow throughout life, giving them special aspect to the faces of old people (Liang & Luo, 2012). In general, after the maturation phase, the aging process leads to a gradual decrease in functional reserve capacity of the human body leading to difficulties with physiological adaptations. This decline is accompanied by - and exacerbated by - the decrease of physical activity that often accompanies advancing age. Biological aspects of aging also includes psychomotor functions of the body including attenuation of reflexes at the muscles and joints, balance problems while standing, formation of senile tremor in head and upper limbs, especially when going from the resting state to action (Parsons, 2006). Disorders praxis, that is voluntary act, and disordering of body awareness, language and writing also occurs.

Psychosocial Effects of Ageing psychosocial effects of aging are also highly prominent and addressed various researchers. There is a significant decrease in the social network among the elderly (Butler, 2009). Losses relating to the ability to move and the interaction with the environment – in terms of viewing and hearing – are experienced by the elderly. These effects bring an individual to limit their external contacts and to withdraw within themselves. This emphasizes the decline in institutions of social networks and isolation (Arber, Davidson, & Ginn, 2008). Psycho-emotional effects of ageing leads to greater social isolation and causes loneliness. It has been found that elderly persons try to combat increased loneliness by engaging in drugs as a substitute for social relationships giving way to terms like psycho-social and emotional aging.

Sociologists stress the concept of social construct in terms of the meaning assigned to ageing by the particular society and the standards held by the society with respect to ageing. Stuart-Hamilton (2006) shows the concept of age is strongly linked to socio-cultural environment.  According to Stuart-Hamilton (2006), in terms of business old age can refer to 55 years of age, while for sports-men 40 years may be termed as the old age.
According to Arber, Davidson, & Ginn (2008) society and culture tend to consider aging as a progressive loss of responsibility in the behavior, which is expressed by the withdrawal of professional activities. On the other hand, withdrawal and social isolation often lead the elderly to form themselves into social groups, which are termed by Bond, Coleman, & Peace (2003) as a course similar to that of ethnic groups (Butler, 2009). In cultures and societies where social security is provided by family, relatives and the immediate community, old age is considered as growth in wisdom and reverence is attached to it.  

Behavioral Aspects of Ageing In addition to the psychosocial and biological aspects of ageing, there are behavioral aspects of aging, as well. Even though behavioral changes in a human with growing age depends by a significant margin on the individual habits and variables, there are various similarities in behavioral changes (Bond, Coleman, & Peace, 2003). Generally, ageing during infancy to the adulthood is marked by increase in knowledge and experience of subjective. These changes lead to increased demands, responsibilities and opportunities of life with aging (Johnson, Bengtson, & Coleman, 2005). However, completely different behavioral changes are observed when aging form adulthood to senility takes place. During this period, behavioral changes associated with aging include departure from working life and the entrance to the retirement age. Disengagement is often observed along with withdrawal from an active lifestyle during the aging process. An active physical lifestyle is replaced with a sedentary one.

Conclusion

The paper evaluated the process of ageing from different perspectives. It is found that ageing is not a uniform process and is accelerated by various forms stress suffered throughout life. It is also concluded that there are several definitions of aging depending on the approach of the scientific discipline. In terms of biological perspective of ageing, various biological effects of aging are observed in humans even from the early periods of life ranging from lungs and cardiovascular system to brain and cell reproduction. Psychosocial effects of aging were found to be highly prominent and found to be dependent on the meaning assigned to ageing by the particular society and the standards held by the society with respect to ageing. Behavioral aspects of ageing are found to differ among individuals. 

References

Arber, S., Davidson, K., & Ginn, J. (2008). Gender and Ageing: Changing Roles and Relationships. New York: McGraw-Hill International.
Bond, J., Coleman, P., & Peace, S. (2003). Ageing in Society: An Introduction to Social Gerontology. New Jersey: Sage Publications.
Butler, A. (2009). Ageing: Recent Advances & Creative Responses. New York: Routledge Publishing.
Johnson, M., Bengtson, V., & Coleman, H. (2005). The Cambridge Handbook Of Age And Ageing. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Liang, J., & Luo, B. (2012, April). Toward a discourse shift in social gerontology: From successful aging to harmonious aging. Journal of Aging Studies.
Parsons, P. (2006). The limit to human longevity: an approach through a stress theory of ageing. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, 87(3), 211-218.
Salminen, A., & Kaarniranta, K. (2010). Genetics vs. entropy: Longevity factors suppress the NF-κB-driven entropic aging process. Ageing Research Reviews, 9(3), 298-314.
Stuart-Hamilton, I. (2006). The Psychology of Ageing: An Introduction. Ohio: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Yu, B., & Chung, H. (2006, April). Adaptive mechanisms to oxidative stress during aging. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, 127(5), 436-443.

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