Everyone ages, yet not everyone relates to his or her own aging in the same way. In the past, successful aging was regarded by many healthcare professionals as the achievement of an advanced age while free from debilitating disease or disability.1 Most past clinical studies of aging tended to focus on physiological factors of aging alone. And even when considering other domains of successful aging besides the physiological, minimal attention has been given to how psychological or other factors may mitigate sometimes-severe physiological decline.
New research seeks to improve upon the past definitions of successful aging to provide a multidimensional view. To capture the complexities and interdependencies of successful aging, Young, Fan, Parrish and Frick proposed a new outlook and successful aging assessment tool incorporating physiological, psychological and social aspects of aging as three domains that permit strengths in one or two domains to counterbalance deficiencies in the other domain(s):2
- 1. The physiological domain refers to functional impairments
- 2. The psychological domain refers to cognitive function and emotional vitality.
- 3. The sociological domain refers to interaction with the environment and engagement with social activities.3
In many cases, physiological independence plays a major role in psychological and sociological wellness. Older adults can be dependent on a caregiver for daily activities such as shopping and cooking, or even for dressing, bathing and other ADLs.4Sometimes, the caregiver is one of only a handful of people who interact with the older patient.
In addition to the physiological care they provide, caregivers can be encouraged to do more to support the psychological and sociological needs of the patients in their care. Focusing on quality of life, rather than just prolonging of life, more closely aligns with what patients report wanting for themselves.5
Identifying the support older patients need and designing appropriate intervention strategies to help maintain quality of life and independence, can help patients and caregivers to plan ahead and coordinate needed care. For many, Lifeline with AutoAlert and the Philips Medication Dispensing Service may assist patients in feeling and remaining more confident and independent, even if they're alone, extending their independence.
1. Rowe JW, Kahn RL. Human aging: Usual and successful. Science 1987; 237:143-149.
2. Young Y, Frick KD, Phelan EA. Can successful aging and chronic illness coexist in the same individual? A multidimensional concept of successful aging. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2009;10:87-92.
3. Young Y, Fan Ming-Yu, Parrish J, Frick K. Validation of a novel successful aging construct. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2009; 10(5):314-322; DOI:10.1016/j.jamda.2009.01.003