Encyclopedia of Geropsychology

2017 Edition
| Editors: Nancy A. Pachana

Activity Theory, Disengagement Theory, and Successful Aging

  • Marguerite DeLiema
  • Vern L. Bengtson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-082-7_102


Activity theory of aging; Disengagement theory of aging; Successful aging


Interdisciplinary gerontological perspectives that attempt to explain why some individuals are better able to adapt to the challenges of aging than others.

Activity and disengagement theories of aging were the first to use social science data to explain why some individuals, or groups, are more adaptive or “successful” in meeting the multiple and inevitable challenges of aging than other persons. These theories for the first time focused on social, psychological, and interpersonal factors in addition to more observable physiological and medical conditions of aging. They also called attention to the positive and healthy aspects of aging rather than frailty, decline, and decrement – which was the focus at the time, not only of the medical establishment in geriatrics but also within social services and public policy for the aged. The debates following activity and disengagement theories changed...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stanford Center on LongevityStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.School of Social Work and Edward R. Roybal Institute on AgingUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA