Successful Aging: What’s Not to Like?
Aging, gerontology, success in aging
The “successful aging” paradigm championed by Rowe and Kahn has become a valued and powerful paradigm in the culture of gerontology. It has been particularly useful for understanding distinctions between primary and secondary aging in later life, leading to numerous intervention studies designed to identify, prevent, and reverse functional losses associated with usual aging. We pose some cautionary questions regarding the assumptions, conceptualization, and application of the perspective. We suggest that the paradigm is parochial with respect to defining criteria; fails to incorporate adequately life course dynamics, particularly the multiple meanings of age-related losses and dependency; fails to address the generalizability of assumptions and findings to heterogeneous populations of elders; ignores evidence indicating numerous routes to aging well; and fails to consider the implications for elders who cannot age “successfully” due to incapacitation or lack of access to environmental resources.
Original Publication Citation
Scheidt, R.J., Humpherys, D.R., & Yorgason, J.B. (1999). Successful aging: What's not to like? Journal of Applied Gerontology, 18(3), 277-282. doi:10.1177/073346489901800301
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Scheidt, Rick J.; Humpherys, Daniel R.; and Yorgason, Jeremy B., "Successful Aging: What’s Not to Like?" (1999). Faculty Publications. 4751.
Journal of Applied Gerontology
Family, Home, and Social Sciences
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