Age is just a number: Various perspectives on successful aging

Old Aged couple sitting on the park bench

Aging is a human evolution in its pure form. Though we can’t help growing older yet we can enjoy every phase of life with full vigour and vitality. Thus, successful aging refers to a state of bliss, transcendence, satisfaction, mastery, growth, longevity and free from disease and disability. This concept has been viewed through various lenses throughout the history. It is based on culturally embedded value systems.

The nature of successful aging has been beautifully captured in Hindu ashram life course (Vanprastha & Sanyasa as stages of enlightenment), while in Western culture it has been referred as “disability free” survival.

Greek philosopher Plato described it as triumph over physical disability by spirituality.

Romans honoured old age because of great authority where success is bestowed through social norms.

On the contrary during Middle Ages and renaissance period, old age was portrayed negatively by a poet such as Shakespeare (sans teeth, sans eyes and sans everything).

In Psychology during 19thcentury Carl Jung identified late life as a process of psychological turning inward.

Neugarten also focused upon increased interiority as a pillar of successful aging.

Erikson emphasized upon the virtue of integrity as a salient feature of successful aging.

Later on, Richard et al. proposed personality traits as determinants of graceful aging.

Subsequently the concept of successful aging is exemplified by Rowe and Kahn’s model, Baltes and Balte’s model of SOC (selective optimization with compensation) and proactivity theory of Kahana and Kahana.

To sum up successful aging has been viewed as a multidimensional construct, which may be explained on the basis of subjective as well as objective criteria.

Therefore, the life of an elderly is like an old wine, becoming more satisfying, more refreshing and more enjoyable.

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