Title

Successful Aging: What’s Not to Like?

Keywords

Aging, gerontology, success in aging

Abstract

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

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

1999-09-01

Publisher

Journal of Applied Gerontology

Language

English

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Department

Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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