Theories of Aging
Gerotranscendence is a theory that suggests as one ages, they transition from caring about the less important aspects in life, to caring about things that are more significant- for example, having a deeper connection with others (Eliopoulos, 2018). Discovering different qualities within themselves and with those who they value, rather than focusing on meaningless things seem to be the key thought in this theory. Dr. Tornstam, the developer of the gerotranscendence theory, noted through his studies of aging that a person’s perspective of their life experiences plays a major role in how they feel about the changes in aging (White, 2015). It is human nature to resist change and the gerotranscendaence theory focuses on positively embracing the changes that come in elderhood.
My personal beliefs of aging are that it can be scary. I am personally afraid of losing control of my body, mind, and the freedom to make choices for myself. I also feel that I may incur the feeling of running out of time to do the things that I would have really wanted to do for myself and with or for those I love. For these fears, I practice gratitude and try to be present when I’m with my family. I also try to self-reflect on situations and see how I can make changes to be better, to be the person I really want to be. I assume some of these aspects will bring me more fulfilment and peace later in life when I’m going through changes. Factors I personally believe have an influence on how we age are lifestyle habits, life experiences, and the relationships we have with those whom are important to us. I believe leading a stressful life, with a lot of negative experiences, contributes to the onset of a lot of physical and psychological ailments earlier in life.
To incorporate Gerotranscendence into the nursing practice, a nurse should assess a patient’s mental status and treat the geriatric population with dignity and respect. The patient may have hardships they are embarrassed to express, being patient and understanding may be all it takes to develop a trusting nurse-patient relationship. The way the elderly population is treated these days contributes to some of the fears we have developed about growing old. If medical professionals regard and treat this population respectfully, these mannerisms would be observed by the family members possibly easing some of the fears of becoming older and needing help when not able to perform the way you once were. Also, helping the younger generations to overcome the stereo types of getting older helps on improving long-term health. Studies have shown that those ages 50 and older who have lower negative beliefs regarding ageing live 7.5 years longer than those who don’t (Marshall, 2014). Studies also show that when interventions to reduce ageism begin during college-aged adulthood, life can be extended by 10% compared to those who begin later in life (Marshall, 2014). The sooner these interventions are implemented, the more positive health effects arise and a decrease in negative health occurrences transpire, such as heart related incidences.
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