Old And New Theory Of Geriatric Nursing

Gerontological nurses also know as geriatric nurses are health care providers who are experts to care for elderly or old-aged people. Geriatric professional works in rehabilitation centers, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. in order to provide extra care to the old aged patients (Aiken, 2019). Since elderly patients suffer from a lot of mental and physical health challenges, it becomes more difficult for the nurses to provide delicate care to them. Their diminished mental capability makes it very challenging for the nurses to deal with certain serious health-related situations. However, the ultimate goal of a geriatric nurse is to maintain a healthy lifestyle for old-aged patients. It is their duty to keep them safe, healthy, and protect them from worsening medical conditions. In addition to this, geriatric nurses assist doctors also in providing mental and physical health care support (Johnson & Johnson, 2021).

Older adults or elderly people experience several complications such as functional decline, pressure ulcers, and others. Moreover, the population of the older age group is increasing day-by-day in the current global scenario. This has ultimately led to an increased demand for health-care providers in this field (Capezuti et al, 2012). Most elderly hospitals are not practically following the aging-sensitive principles. This has resulted in unsatisfied health-care services and complaints (Boman et al, 2019). Such principles certainly provide high-quality care to elderly patients in the hospitals (Capezuti and Brush, 2009).

The structure of this essay is divided into three major parts. In the first part, the essay aims to discuss the meaning of theory in the field of nursing. It will discuss the importance and value of theories in this field and how it is useful for nurses. The second part of this essay will discuss different theories that help to understand the process of aging. Five theories have been selected to discuss the behavior, attitude, and psychological condition of old-aged people. In the third section, the application of all the theories will be analyzed and examined. It will help to understand how geriatric nurses apply these theories to provide care and support to them. In the end, the essay will discuss the final takeaways along will some recommendations.

Theory In Nursing

The essay will discuss the theories of geriatric nursing. However, it is important to understand the exact meaning and definition of theory in order to further develop the rest of the sections of this essay. A theory has several definitions, meanings, and implications. However, a common definition of theory is the systematic explanation of an event. Following a particular event, a theorist identifies several facts, relationships, and predictions (Speziale et al, 2003). Thus, assignment writer suggested a theory is an organized and systematic form of knowledge proposed by the theorist, which contains validity and authenticity logically and rationally.

Likewise, in the domain of nursing practices, several theorists have proposed several theories to provide a systematic understanding and steps that should be followed while providing care to the patients. A nursing theory is generally developed to guide and provide a roadmap to future practitioners to provide quality care to the patients. The study of Wadensten (2006) implicates that none of the nursing theories contains the theories for caring for older patients. This is one of the major gaps in nursing theories. Following this, gerontological nurses follow theories of aging in order to understand the mental and physical health conditions of elderly patients. Understanding these theories further helps them to provide special and quality care to the patients. However, it is a notable fact that due to the lack of theories for providing care to elderly people, psychosocial theories of aging are the theoretical base for gerontological nursing care.

Understanding Different Theories Of Ageing

Activity Theory

This is one of the oldest theories of aging which provides a systematic explanation of different perspectives on aging. Havighurst in the year 1948 first published the book which describes the concept of developmental tasks (Havighurst and Albrecht, 1953). The activity theory explains the importance of the continuation of the level of activity and interaction with the social world (ShellaeVersey, 2015). Successful aging according to Cuming and Henry (1961) is defined as leaving middle-aged activities and social interaction and adopting a new way of lifestyle. Detachment from society and focusing on an individual aspect of life is the symbol of successful aging. However, Havighurst opines that activity occupies a central position of any individual; it is a symbol of the health and well-being of elderly people. This theory suggests that all the elderly or old aged people have the same psychological, social, and physical needs. Nursing assignment help defined in totality, this ultimately helps the practitioners to understand that well-being and satisfied life are the important criteria for elderly people. They enjoy maintaining social roles and relationships and doing social activities in order to live healthily and actively.

Disengagement Theory

This theory was propounded by Cumming and Henry in the year 1961. Disengagement theory implies that as people get older; they tend to detach themselves from society. It is their natural tendency and it is the process of aging. All the roles and responsibilities are transferred to the next generation and elderly people, according to this theory, prepares themselves for judgment day. They need space and freedom to pursue their own work. However, with the passage of time, this theory seems to be outdated and not acceptable in the norms and perspectives of society (Zaidi and Howse, 2017). It has received many criticisms and negative comments from other theorists because it snatches the motivation and inner strengths of elderly people. As a consequence, people gradually detach from society and become physically inactive and unproductive. This theory is entirely opposite of the theory proposed by Havighurst, which is the activity theory of aging.

Continuity Theory

The continuity theory of aging was proposed by Havens. This theory implies that as people from middle age towards old age, they tend to experience certain changes around them. In these changes, they primarily rely on their comfort level. They do not tend to adopt new resources or coping strategies. In adopting changes, they rely on their past experiences and decisions. These former experiences, behavior, and attitude of people become the foundational base of their current situation. Based on the life perspective of a particular person, he or she adapts and adopts new and changing perspectives of life. The continuity theory of aging is further divided into two parts, internal continuity, and external continuity. The inner theory of continuity suggests that an individual tries to maintain their inner values, preferences, attitudes, behavior, etc. On the other hand, the external theory of continuity suggests the continuation of an individual’s social roles, relationships, and kinships (Finchum and Weber, 2000).

The theory indicates that the life satisfaction of a middle or old aged person depends on the level on which the internal and external continuity requirements are fulfilled in a dynamic social environment (Wadensten, 2006). Hence, this theory can also be regarded as the developmental theory which helps the person to maintain his or her identity in a social context. To know more get immediate assignment help tutor assistance from SourceEssay.

Erikson’s Psychodynamic Theory

This theory explains the development of the human being from birth to getting old. It explains the physical development and maturation of the human body. Firstly, this theory was developed by Erikson in the fifth decade of the twentieth century. Later, in the year 1982, he proposed some other relative information in his previously developed theory of psychodynamic. Erikson identifies eight stages of human growth in his study (Knight, 2017). In the first stage of life, infancy, Erikson observes that the infant experiences dilemma between trust and mistrust. A responsible individual helps the baby to develop a sense of trust with adults. In the next stage, that is early childhood, a child experiences a psychological dilemma between autonomy and doubt. The next stage is the play age in which a child experiences industry versus inferiority. In this stage, a child begins to compare themselves with their friends and fellows. In stage five, a child enters the stage of adolescence. In this stage, he or she experiences a conflict between identity and role confusion. In the next stage, that is young adulthood, intimacy versus isolation remains the dominating psychological emotion. Next, in the stage of adulthood, generativity and stagnation are the two important psychodynamic aspects of an adult. In the last stage, that is, old age, the dominant psychological conflicts are in between integrity and despair. In this stage, the people generally look back on their lived life and ponder \s on it. They experience despair and fear of death.

The Theory Of Gerotranscendence

This theory was developed by Tornstam by getting inspiration from the theories of Erikson, Jung, and many more. This explains the process of getting old. Old age is the final stage of a person’s life in which a person moves towards maturation and wisdom. In this stage, a person abandons the materialistic pleasure of worldly life and adopts meta-perspective. In addition to this, entering this stage provides different feelings and experiences of self. Essay writing help redefines the relations with self and with others. Elderly people, according to this theory, mostly tend to detach from social activities and want to give time to their self-observation and self-reflection.

Application Of Ageing Theories By Geriatric Nurses

From the perspective of activity theory, geriatric nurses support the activities of elderly people by encouraging and motivating them to participate in several social activities (Wadensten, 2006). Since the theory of activity implicates that the continuation of middle-aged activity is a vital criterion to get old successfully. Therefore, it has been observed that the individual who involved themselves in several activities finds no trouble in getting old. Hence, nurses can apply this theory in providing quality care to old-aged people. They can ask the patients to develop certain hobbies and preferences in order to remain engaged and occupied. Activating the old aged person and encouraging them to participate in social interaction and activities will increase their life satisfaction and motivates them to live healthily.

From the perspective of the Disengagement theory of aging, the study of Asiamah (2017) indicates that this theory has got its validity in providing care to elderly people by geriatric nurses. The analysis of this study suggests that the disengagement theory is more valid in poor or developing countries. Since the life expectancy rate in these countries is very less, therefore, in such a society very few people remain to socially interact with one another. This automatically discourages people to socially engage or take participating in social activities. In addition to this, it is not mandatory that every aged people of every country prefers to be engaged actively in social interaction. In this scenario, geriatric nurses must understand the preferences and habits of these types of people. They should not encourage or motivate them to get involved in social activities. Consequently, nurses should respect the wish of the elderly person and let them alone. This act may provide them satisfaction and release their mental pressure and burden (Wadensten, 2006). There is no doubt that this theory has received multiple criticisms and negative reviews from other theories but it is true that it helps the nurses to understand the mental and physical nature of older people.

In addition, the continuity theory of aging maintains that middle and old-aged people tend to adapt and adopt their surroundings based on their past experiences, behaviors, and decisions. In this context, the research study of Onega and Tripp-Reimer (1997) indicates that geriatric nurses can significantly apply this theory to provide them a quality care. The continuity theory of aging helps the nurses to analyze the pasts of the individual, on the basis of which, they can develop further planning for providing health and mental care to the patients. Geriatric nurses help elderly patient to continue their past lifestyle. They can further help them to adopt new roles or activities that suits well with patients past experiences, behavior, and decision. Along with this, this theory also helps the person to cope up with his or her aging processes. Furthermore, to help the patients to live life satisfactorily, the use of reminiscence therapy can also help them continue their social responsibility and social identity, successfully (Wadensten, 2006).

In a similar way, from the perspectives of Erikson’s psychodynamic theory, geriatric nurses get immense support and knowledge from this theory in providing care to elderly people. Nurses in order to provide care can praise their past activities and decisions. As per term paper help experts this will help elderly people to come out of despair and focus on the value and wisdom of life. The nurses can positively influence old-aged people to dive into their past and experience happiness, joy, and pride. In this context also, reminiscence theory also helps them to change and adopt healthy lifestyles and routines. The theory of King is inspired by Erikson’s psychodynamic theory which explains that a nurse must focus on the aspects that help the old aged people to grow (Wadensten, and Carlsson, 2003).

The application of gerotranscendence theory of aging provides immense support to geriatric nurses in helping elderly people to live a satisfactory life. They can support older people by developing healthy communication with them. A good and positive conversation with them will help the old aged people to grow them personally. For example, a healthy talk may include a conversation about the last-night dream, past life experiences, childhood lives, heroic incidents, etc. It will ultimately provide them support and care (Wadensten and Carlsson, 2003). Along with this, ask them to get involved in some kind of activities. A group conversation, starting reminiscence therapy, participating in meditation activity, etc will really help them to develop positive aspects and beliefs towards life. This theory also helps the nurses to extract their present thought and beliefs and work accordingly. The geriatric nurse can encourage older people to organize and plan to provide peace to them. This will act as therapy and helps them to think about themselves.

From the overall discussion, it can be concluded that the present essay has successfully fulfilled its aims by discussing various theories and their application by geriatric nurses to provide care and support to elderly people. It has highlighted the important aspects of all the five theories of aging along with their application in the field of nursing. The analysis of all these theories indicates that the most convenient and easily applied theory is the activity theory proposed by Havighurst. It seems that it is widely acceptable and applicable. Moreover, it is one of the effective theories in the field of gerontology. It is important for old people to remain active and socially engaged in society. In addition to this, other theories, such as continuity theory, Erikson’s theory, and gerotranscendence are useful for the geriatric nurse. However, utmost care should be given before applying disengagement theory while providing care to older people. It is recommended that its application should be based on the mental condition of the old people. To get assistance write my essay professional are available anytime.


Aiken., 2019. What is Gerontological Nursing? Retrieved from: https://online.usca.edu/articles/rnbsn/what-is-gerontological-nursing.aspx

Asiamah, N., 2017. Social engagement and physical activity: Commentary on why the activity and disengagement theories of ageing may both be valid. Cogent Medicine, 4(1), p.1289664.

Boman, E., Glasberg, A.L., Levy-Malmberg, R. and Fagerström, L., 2019. ‘Thinking outside the box’: advanced geriatric nursing in primary health care in Scandinavia. BMC nursing, 18(1), pp.1-9.

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