Aging Theories and Their Impact on Nursing


Aging is a complex process, many aspects of which are still poorly understood. Many different groups of scientists study aging from different perspectives, the main ones being biological, sociological, and psychological. Each of these points of view provides a unique definition of this inevitable phenomenon that every person faces. The duty of every nurse here is to know how to help people with health problems caused by aging. This paper aims to discuss the mainstream perspectives on aging and their influence on nursing.

Biological Perspective

Biologists have developed many explanations of how aging works during the existence of the scientific discipline. These include stochastic, programmed, neuroendocrine, membrane, Hayflick Limit, mitochondrial decline, and cross-linking theories (Pathath, 2017). However, they all define the aging phenomenon in the same way. According to Pathath (2017), “it is the process of growing old, resulting in part from the failure of body cells to function normally or to produce new body cells to replace those that are dead or malfunctioning” (p. 15). It is worth noting that the programmed theory is one of the most well-developed ones.

Sociological Perspective

As noted above, sociology is another discipline heavily involved in the issue under discussion. Aging is defined there as “changes in people’s roles and relationships in a society as they age” (Sociology, 2016, p. 440). Sociologists have developed three major assumptions trying to explain the process of social aging, which are disengagement, activity, and conflict theories (Sociology, 2016). Proponents of each of these approaches see the role and place of older people in society very differently.

Psychological Perspective

Psychologists also have a definition of what psychological aging is. From their point of view, aging is a process of periodic changes in a person’s behavior, social interactions, and activities in which he or she is engaged (Rogers, n.d.). It is noteworthy that psychology shares some theories of aging with sociology, namely disengagement and activity (Rogers, n.d.). However, psychologists have their own unique concepts, which are life-course, and continuity theories.

Nursing Interventions

It is no secret that older people face many biological and psychological problems associated with age-related changes. Some of the most common are death anxiety, loneliness, and oral health problems. Laughter therapy would be an efficient intervention to reduce feelings of loneliness and death anxiety (Kuru Alici et al., 2018). An effective measure to improve oral health would be to provide personalized oral hygiene verbal instructions and written prescriptions for older people with dental diseases (Seleskog et al., 2018). One can safely say that these two scientific fields have a vast theoretical basis for developing many and varied responses to age-related diseases.

Nursing Implications

The major theories of each of the three approaches have the potential to provide nurses with new knowledge of the treatment and care of patients with age-related diseases. The programmed theory could be applied to the development of new endocrine disorders medications (Pathath, 2017). Disengagement and life-course theories could form the basis for new and groundbreaking health promotion and disease prevention strategies, methods, and practices.

Health Promotion Practices

The health promotion practices that ensure successful aging are well known. One of the traditional and most popular ones that I do regularly is physical activity. It can be performed in the gym or through an active hobby such as rock climbing or swimming. Avoiding long-term harmful habits such as all types of smoking and alcohol drinking is another one. It will be helpful to become a member of related cessation programs for those who already have these bad habits.


Kuru Alıcı, N., Zorba Bahceli, P., & Emiroğlu, O. N. (2018). The preliminary effects of laughter therapy on loneliness and death anxiety among older adults living in nursing homes: A nonrandomized pilot study. International Journal of Older People Nursing, 13(4), 1-9.

Pathath, A. W. (2017). Theories of aging. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, 4(3), 15-22.

Rogers, K. (n.d.). Aging. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web.

Seleskog, B., Lindqvist, L., Wårdh, I., Engström, A., & von Bültzingslöwen, I. (2018). Theoretical and hands‐on guidance from dental hygienists promotes good oral health in elderly people living in nursing homes, a pilot study. International Journal of Dental Hygiene, 16(4), 476-483.

Sociology: Understanding and changing the social world. (2016). The University of Minnesota Libraries.

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NursingBird. "Aging Theories and Their Impact on Nursing." August 8, 2022.