Aging: Biological, Spiritual and Social Aspects


Aging is the build-up of changes in an individual after a while. Some aspects of aging develop and increase with time, whereas others reduce. Aging is a significant component of all societies for it shows the biological alterations that take place and reveals societal and cultural standards. The study of the biological, social, and psychological aspects of aging is referred to as gerontology. Aging comprises four dissimilar progressions, viz. biological aging, social aging, chronological aging, and psychological aging (Bass, 2006). Chronological aspects define aging in accordance with the number of years from the time a person is born. Biological aging signifies the physical alterations that decrease the effectiveness of organ systems. Social aspects denote a person’s varying functions and associations with other people. This resource kit explains biological aspects of aging coupled with spiritual and social aspects and identifies matters of importance in offering services for the aged in residential care.

Social aspects

Social aspects of aging denote a sub-ground that concentrates on the learning or functioning of the aged. Social aspects are accountable for enlightening, researching, and developing the broader reasons for aging (Bath, 2003). Since matters of natural life and life addition require numbers to compute, there is a convergence with demography.

Social work

Social work with the aged is both a micro and macro exercise involving persons more than sixty years old, relatives, society, aging-associated strategies, and aging studies (Charles, Reynolds, & Gatz, 2001). It characteristically offers counseling, care, society planning, and support in a collection of organizations and residential lasting care amenities like nursing facilities.


Several theories associated with the social aspect of aging include:

Activity theory

In line with this theory, the self-concept of the aged relies on social relations. Being active assists the well-being of an individual in numerous aspects. Owing to improved health and affluence in the aged, staying active is of immense benefit. Numerous aged people do not have the resources to uphold active functions in the community (Mather & Carstensen, 2005). On the other hand, some elderly people might maintain hazardous actions like driving during the night with little visual sharpness or undertaking maintenance jobs in the house. In this manner, they violate their bodily restrictions and get involved in dangerous conduct.

Disengagement theory

In accordance with this theory, the aged people and community engagement in a shared detachment from one another. The major supposition of this theory is that the aged drop ego-vigor and turn out to be more and more self-engaged. In addition, this theory maintains that disengagement brings about higher self-confidence continuance compared to when the aged attempt to uphold social participation (Masoro & Austad, 2006). Steady withdrawal from the public and associations allows the community to continue in operation after helpful old people die. Unfortunately, there is a resounding lack of scientific or scholarly proof to back this theory. Compelled withdrawal from the community might be destructive to old people and the community in general.

Continuity Theory

Continuity denotes to remain unchanged. The stagnant outlook of continuity is not appropriate for the aging of people. An active outlook of continuity begins with the thought of a basic constitution that endures over time, although it allows an array of alterations to take place in the context offered by the fundamental arrangement. The fundamental arrangement is consistent in that it has an organized relation of components, which is noticeably distinctive. A fundamental basis of this theory is that in creating adaptive alternatives, the elderly try to maintain and uphold existing interior and exterior organizations and desire to achieve this aim by use of continuity (Moody, 2006). Continuity theory sees both inner and outer continuity as strong adaptive policies, which are held by both personal fondness and social permits. In view of this explanation, this theory has massive possibility as a universal theory of adjustment to the aging process.

Age stratification theory

This theory holds that, people born during a given time segregate and form age groups, which give way to age divisions depending on the age group where one belongs. Two dissimilarities exist amid divisions, viz. chronological period, and historical knowledge. The age stratification theory creates two arguments (Saltman, Dubois, & Chawla, 2006). The first argument states that age is a means of regulating conduct and accordingly establishes access to situations of power, while the second one argues that birth cohorts participate in a powerful function in the course of social alteration.

Life-course theory

In accordance with this theory, the process of aging takes place from birth to death. Aging entails psychological, biological, and social progressions. In addition, a group of historical aspects forms aging incidents (Rheinhardt, 2003). Remarkable decreases in mortality and fruitfulness in the past decades have so stirred the constitution of the life track and the character of work, family, and relaxation practices that it is now achievable for people to become aged in new methods. The organizations and subject matter of other life phases are being changed as well, particularly for women. As a result, scholars will redefine theories of aging.

Cumulative benefit/loss theory

By the theory of cumulative benefit/loss, disparities have an inclination of becoming more articulated all through the aging process. A concept of this theory can be articulated in the saying that the wealthy get wealthier and the deprived become more deprived. Benefits and losses in early life phases have a deep effect all through the natural life (Meara, White, & Cutler, 2004). Nevertheless, benefits and losses in middle maturity have a straightforward outcome on financial and health standing in life afterward.

Biological aspects of aging

The biological aspect of aging entails several theories with a broad array of theories detailing the basis of age with both error and programmed theories. Irrespective of the many theories under this category, a shared argument is that as people age, roles of the body decrease (Salthouse, 2009). The following are some of the theories of aging associated with biological aspects.

Wear and tear

This theory proposes that, as a person ages, body components like organs and cells wear down from prolonged utilization. Wearing of the human body could be ascribed to interior or exterior reasons that finally bring about a build-up of damages that exceed the ability for repair (Bowen & Atwood, 2011). These interior and exterior damages make cells get rid of their capacity to regenerate. Eventually, this aspect results in chemical and mechanical collapse. A number of these damages comprise chemicals in the atmosphere, smoke, or food. Additional damages might come from things like free radicals, viruses, and elevated body temperature.


This theory suggests that aging is ingrained in the genetic composition of every living thing. In accordance with genetic theory, genes prescribe cellular endurance. A biological timer through genetic knowledge in the center of the cell establishes set death of cells and throughout the line of normal growth; these genes are articulated or suppressed (Haley & Zelinski, 2007). Environmental aspects and genetic changes influence gene appearance and speed up aging.

General instability

General instability theories propose that human body structures like the immune system and nervous system progressively decline and eventually stop working. The speed of breakdown differs depending on the structure in question (Bass, 2006).


This theory proposes that aging is physical decline, which happens because of a build-up of components. Components can be exterior and initiated to the human body from the surroundings (Bath, 2003). Other components can be the innate products of cell metabolism. Moreover, harmful substances like free radicals can become ingrained in one’s genome and thus cause permanent damage.

Providing services for the aged in residential care

Managing and well-being

As a health professional, I have examined various skills to manage old age. Different aspects like social assistance, upstanding spirituality, active involvement in life and possessing an interior position of management are valuable elements in assisting the aged to deal with demanding life occurrences, as they grow older. Social assistance and personal management are perhaps the two most imperative aspects that foretell health, morbidity, and death in adults (Charles, Reynolds, & Gatz, 2001). Other aspects that might connect with health and excellence of life in the aged comprise social associations (probable associations with pets and people), and physical conditions. The aged in dissimilar divisions, in the same residential care, have shown a lower possibility of death and higher attentiveness and self-rated wellbeing in the division where inhabitants have better control of their surroundings. However, individual control might have fewer effects on particular standards of health.


Society should encourage the aging to engage in matters of religion for it plays a significant role in addressing some life issues, especially matters surrounding life and death. Dedication to religious matters might as well be related to decreased mortality (Mather & Carstensen, 2005). Even though religionism is a multidimensional aspect, it is still a vital feature of life.

Physical sickness

In cases where the aged have to deal with constant illnesses or severe physical sicknesses with a rapid commencement, it might be more devastating to the elder on grounds of self-reliance and self-care. An unconstructive opinion of the condition and a hopeless mindset will negatively influence the manner that which an elderly person manages a given disease. Sorrow in coping with any sickness is to be anticipated (Masoro & Austad, 2006). The capacity of an aged person to adapt depends on physical fitness, life experiences, individuality, and degree of social care. As a health professional, I would encourage relatives and friends of the aged to visit them at the residential care centers.

The relatives and friends should join forces to assist the aged do the following:

  1. Identify permanent alterations like diet, way of life, and exercise that might encourage recovery
  2. Emotionally cope with losses brought by sicknesses
  3. Admit a fresh self-image
  4. Seek and uphold social assistance from relatives and friends

In addition, the residential care facility can assist the aged cope with a chronic sickness in the following methods:

  1. Decrease fears concerning the sicknesses through education
  2. Pay attention and be responsive to the emotions expressed orally and nonverbally
  3. Offer support
  4. Identify techniques to decrease stress and to encourage social support


Aging can be a moment of self-expression and study of fresh attention. Moreover, it can be a period of coping with formidable difficulties and grievous stresses. Changes happen all through natural life, and how aged persons deal and adapt to changes eventually establishes their capacity to deal with aging. Remaining lively can assist in reducing the outcomes of aging (Rheinhardt, 2003). By explaining theories about aging, getting wakefulness of the various stressors related to aging, and recognizing the ways through which the aged deal with serious sicknesses, residential care facilities can assist the aged improve their excellence of life as they go through aging.

Reference List

Bass, S. (2006). Gerontological Theory: The Search for the Holy Grail. The Gerontologist, 46, 139-144.

Bath, P. A. (2003). Differences between older men and woman in the Self-Rated Health/ Mortality Relationship. The Gerontologist, 43, 387-394.

Bowen, R., & Atwood, C. (2011). The reproductive-cell cycle theory of aging: an update. Experimental Gerontology, 46 (2): 100-107.

Charles, S., Reynolds, C., & Gatz, M. (2001). Age-related differences and change in positive and negative affect over 23 years. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80 (1): 136-151.

Haley, W., & Zelinski, E. (2007). Progress and challenges in graduate education in gerontology: The U.S. experience. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, 27 (3): 11-26.

Masoro, E., & Austad, S. (2006). Handbook of the Biology of Aging (6th ed.) San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Mather, M., & Carstensen, L. (2005). Aging and motivated cognition: The positivity effect in attention and memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9 (10): 496-502.

Meara, E., White, C., & Cutler, D. (2004). Trends in medical spending on by age, 1963–2000. Health Affairs, 23 (4): 176-183.

Moody, H. (2006). Aging: Concepts and Controversies (5th ed.) California: Pine Forge Press.

Rheinhardt, U. (2003). Does The Aging Of The Population Really Drive The Demand For Health Care? Health Affairs, 22 (6): 27-39.

Salthouse, T. (2009). When does age-related cognitive decline begin? Neurobiology of Aging, 30 (4): 507-514.

Saltman, R., Dubois, H., & Chawla, M. (2006). The Impact Of Aging On Long-term Care In Europe And Some Potential Policy Responses. International Journal of Health Services, 36 (4): 719-746.


Appendix 1: Visit at the residential care

Visit at the residential care
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