Explain the concept of aging. Describe the application of positive psychology for successful aging.
Aging means predictable, progressive, unived deterioration in various physiological systems,
mental and physical, behavioural and biomedical
APPLYING POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY FOR SUCCESSFUL AGING
The negative stereotypes about age are socially constructed such as young
people cannot be leaders, old people cannot be active, etc. This eventually
translates to devaluation in the society, prejudiced behaviour, unfair treatment
and discrimination based on age. This not only has its own negative implications
in mental and physical health of the individual (Stephan, Sutin, & Terraciano,
2015) but also reflects in perceived change in ‘subjective age’ because of the
age related cues and information. Levy (2018) has proposed a PEACE model
expected to reduce ageism through positive education about ageing and contact
experiences (Refer Fig. 15.7). Education about aging with positive older role
models would help one appreciate getting older and dispel myths related to it.
Positive contact experiences will help integrate the relations between generations
through mutual cooperation, like working together on a social project
Productive aging is referred to when older people work to enhance their own
welfare or that of the communities and society at large (Bass, Caro & Chen,
1993; Ranzijn, 2002). Productivity includes goods or services that otherwise
would have been charged for. However, it extends to unpaid work, such as
intangible contributions like passing on wisdom, guidance, knowledge, and
expertise. The idea is to disable the notion of utility confined to capitalistic
services and goods
Accepting Death Anxiety
Just talking about death is scary. Inevitably there is a lot of associated taboo
with the concept of death, and causes apprehension or dread. Occasionally it is
normal to feel this, but it feels more close to reality as we get older. Especially
during old age the apprehension may develop into an emotional difficulty. Wong
and Tomer (2011) has suggested that accepting death anxiety as a paradoxical
reality is valuable as it enhances resilience, meaning of life, and flourishing.
Positive attitude and meaning centered acceptance about death can contribute
to well-being (Neimeyer, 2005). Figure 15.8 enlists the different types of death
acceptance that can help one optimally adapt to the idea of death.
Subjective aging can have various psychological and affective implications
of cognition resulting in loneliness, anxiety, fear, depression, disability, and
pain. This could increase the stress burden, challenge sleep patterns, cause
amotivation, disability, and increase chronic pain. Positive intervention help to
minimise outcomes like decreasing coping ability, increased risk of injury, lack
of self care, dependence on pain killers, opoid usage, etc.
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Learning from the socioemotional selectivity theory, positivity bias in the form
of maximisation of feelings of contentment, serenity and happiness helps to
regulate emotions while overlooking criticism. So surrounding oneself with
enjoyment, jovial people, and cherishing ordinary everyday experiences (going
to a movie, dinner with family and friends) would invariably enhance wellbeing
and life satisfaction. In a study of happiness and longevity in Catholic nuns, it
was found that even at 80 years of age the most cheerful nuns (based on diary
entries at a younger age) had survival rate of 75% compared to 40 % for the
least cheerful group of nuns (Danner, Snowdon, & Friesen, 2001). Conversely,
it has been seen that lower level of happiness has been associated with dementia,
lesser social support, dependence, and loneliness (Baltes, & Smith, 2003).
Staying active doesn’t quite mean to remain physically engaged. Active lifestyle
requires adequate and regular challenge and stimulation that results in a sense
of fulfilment such as playing card games or regular and enjoyable interaction
with people. No one activity is found to be superior to the other to ward off
cognitive impairment (Carlson et al, 2011). A study of 397 elderly Koreans
aged 65 and over found that only active leisure activities help the elderly to
enjoy their old age by increasing their physical health compared to passive
leisure activities that are enjoyed alone which may impede a socially-healthy
aging process (Chul-Ho, Johnson, & Chulhwan, 2020). This study maintained
that there was no difference in the forms of leisure activities.
Religious or spiritual engagement
Spirituality or religious activity guides the elderly to tap into an active inner
resource and increases coping strategies. A quasi experimental study of 60
elderly residents in Indonesia experienced a higher quality of life after being
subject to a purposefully designed religious intervention (Prammesona &
A very common activity like listening to music could have manifold benefits
and is known to boost positive emotions in elderly. Lauka (2007) reported that
few listening strategies were associated with psychological wellbeing in elders.
Hays and Minichiello (2005) in their qualitative study also revealed that music
provides people of connecting in their self identity, maintaining wellbeing,
enhancing and expressing spirituality. It also helps to maintain positive self
esteem, competence, independence, and avoid loneliness.