In Health, Illness, and Optimal Aging: Biological and Psychosocial Perspectives, Carolyn M. Aldwin and Diane F. Gilmer undertake the challenging task of assembling an objective and holistic picture of human aging. The authors provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary coverage of the physical aspects of aging, including age-related changes and disease-related processes, the demography of the aging population, theories of aging, and the promotion of optimal aging. In addition, the book covers the psychosocial aspects of aging, including mental health, stress and coping, spirituality, and care giving in later years. Health, Illness and Optimal Aging is recommended for researchers seeking an overview of health psychology and aging, as well as undergraduate and graduate students taking classes in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. This text is also valuable for practitioners working with the elderly in fields such as nursing, social work, occupational and physical therapy, day-care and nursing home administration, psychology, and rehabilitation.
Chapter 12: What is Optimal Aging?
What is Optimal Aging?
Defining optimal aging has been a challenge for both medicine and psychology. We are much better at identifying illness or pathological processes than health. There is increased interest in positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), as well as constructs such as wisdom. Optimal aging is more than just good health; it must include notions of adult development as well.
This chapter reviews the current models of optimal aging, using them as a framework for summarizing and extending some findings discussed in previous chapters. We focus on factors that accelerate the aging process as well as those that decelerate it.
Models of Optimal Aging
There has been a spate of publications in the last few years with titles such as Successful Aging ...