The definition of successful aging has been a subject for debate for many years. Different bodies of knowledge have often come up with conflicting definitions of the concept of successful aging as contrasted with the concept of normal aging. The main hindrance to achievement of a universal definition of successful aging lies in the fact that there is no universal definition of success. However, in the description that closely capture the concept of successful aging is that of maintaining high level functional of both the physical and mental parts of the human being even when the person is advanced in years. This description of successful aging captures the fact that the person who is advanced in years is still able to participate or take part in normal social engagements, physical activities as well as maintain a healthy life free from any form of chronic illnesses that are common with aging persons.
The concept of successful aging has several implications to both aging people and healthcare professionals. For this reason, clinicians and researchers have tried to redefine the term successful aging in contrast to normal aging in order to ascertain its relevance to aging patients. The definition of successful aging is of great significant to aging patients since it enables them to ascertain their values and ideals. However, due to the various approaches to the concept, there has generally been a lack of consensus of the definition of successful aging. A periodic assessment of aging patients on their idea about successful aging shows that their concept of successful aging varies depending on their personal circumstances. The ability to achieve a significant level of personal satisfaction amidst the changing personal situations is an integral part of successful aging.
In order to evaluate whether Mrs. Rodriquez is aging successfully or not, it is important to first examine the definition of successful aging as put forward by Rowe and Khan (1997). According to Rowe and Khan, successful aging consists of a number of core components. First and foremost, successful aging is characterized by a lower probability of disease. This means that a person experiencing successful aging will experience little or no blood pressure conditions, little or no experience on conditions of disease or disabilities that are commonly associated with old age. Other conditions that a successfully aging person will rarely experience include blood glucose, visual and memory impairments as well as physical disabilities. On the other hand, the person aging successfully is likely to experience a high cognitive ability, normal physical functioning of body parts as well as an active engagement in social life. Rowe and Khan note that these three components of successful aging are in most cases relative. This means that successful aging can be characterized through comparison of one aging person to another. In addition, in their definition of successful aging, Rowe and Khan note that the three components of successful aging can be subdivided into subcomponents. For example, the concept of absence of disease should also include the absence of risk factors that may cause disease. On the other hand, the component of high functioning can still be subdivided further into both cognitive and physical subcomponents. Lastly, the component of active engagement normally takes several forms including interpersonal relationships as well as engagement in productive activities.
Based on the definition put forward by Rowe and Khan, it can be said that Mrs. Rodriquez is aging successfully. First and foremost, it is important to note that Mrs. Rodriquez has live a successful and productive life. Although she lacked a college education, she worked for many years in an insurance company and was able to raise up her children. In addition, she had a successful marriage for a period of 52 years with her husband. Apart from Sylvia, who never married, all the other children are married and have children. While the concept of success is relative, it can be said that Mrs. Rodriquez is satisfied with her life achievements. This can be noted from the fact that Mrs. Rodriquez is proud of all her married children.
Another aspect of Mrs. Rodriquez life which shows that she is successfully aging is the fact that despite her age, she is independent in the house. She depends very little on her daughter Sylvia to support her and does almost everything by herself. In addition, her is active in her social engagements. Mrs. Rodriquez is a friend to her neighbors and also enjoys staying with her children and their families, although they visit her occasionally.
Strawbridge (2002) proposed a model for aging people to rate themselves of whether they are aging successfully or note. The model was the product of a research study where a sample population of aging people were asked whether they were aging successfully and the results of the study used to create the model. The responses of participants were categorized into “agree strongly”, “agree somewhat” and “disagree strongly”.
From the case of Mrs. Rodriquez, it is important to note that she has no regrets. First and foremost, while she misses her husband, she is happy that she has been able to maintain the family estate. In addition, Mrs. Rodriquez does not depend on any of her children for financial support (Strawbridge, 2002). Despite the fact that she is old, Mrs. Rodriquez is both emotionally and psychologically health and can stay at her home with her daughter Sylvia instead of a nursing home as is common with other aging people who are unfortunately not experiencing successful aging like her. In addition, Mrs. Rodriquez is aware of her current situation and appreciates the fact that she has support from her family, friends and neighbors who are supporting her emotionally and socially. Another aspect of Mrs. Rodriquez which shows that she is satisfied is the fact that she is happy with her children and what they have been able to achieve in their personal lives. Although the children and their families occasionally visit her, she understands her current situation and is aware of the fact that they are busy with their lives and that it may not be possible for them to be with her all the time.
In addition, Mrs. Rodriquez is proud to be living in her own house, independent and physically strong at the age of 85. She exhibits high cognitive abilities which is demonstrated by the fact that she still has a high level of self-awareness
From the data presented by Phelan and Larson (2002), it remains clear that Mrs. Rodriquez is experiencing successfully aging. First and foremost, she is living a satisfied life. She is happy with her own achievements and those of her children. Although she did not achieve college education, she had a productive working life that enabled her and her husband to own an apartment in which she lives at the age of 85. In addition, the fact that she still maintains strong social ties with her friend and neighbors shows that she is living a satisfied life. In addition, Mrs. Rodriquez is living a healthy life, free from diseases that are common with old age such as visual impairments and physical disability (Phelan & Larson , 2002),. She is also very independent and can perform most of the tasks by herself without the support of her daughter Sylvia. In addition, she supports herself financially and is not a bother to her children. Mrs. Rodriquez has always thinks of herself as a very strong person and does not like to bother anyone. In order to understand successful aging, it is important that healthcare providers and researchers engage aging people directly. Asking questions and obtaining answers from aging people is an important step towards understanding the aging process. This step will also enable researchers to understand the values, ideas and goes that are necessary to achieve successful aging.
If I were Mrs. Rodriquez, some of the most important questions I would ask in order to evaluate whether I am aging successfully would include: what is the most important thing that I am proud of in my life? I m I happy with my current situation? I am I in touch with my family, friends and neighbors? Am I independent financially or am I a burden to my family members? Am I able to support myself in day to day activities or do require assistance from relatives?
Based on the case study of Mrs. Rodriquez and the literature provided regarding successful aging, I think it is and important concept that everyone should know. Understanding successful aging not only enables a person to appreciate their life achievement but also live an independent old age life while still taking an active role in social managements that makes them feel important and appreciated in society. The concept of successful aging is relevant especially today where many people approaching old age are faced with challenges ranging from stress disorders, neglect from society as well as a lack of satisfaction. The concept of successful aging as defined in this paper is sufficient to enable aging people understand successful aging and does not need to be changed.