Disengagement and activity theories are widely used approaches for explaining the aging process. The main difference between these two theories relates to how they perceive elderly people’s activity and engagement in social interactions. Disengagement theory is premised on the idea that the aging is a natural process and that it is acceptable for the elderly to withdraw from social interactions and stop relating with others in society. Activity theory contrasts sharply with the disengagement idea by claiming that people age successfully by staying active and maintaining social interactions and personal relationships rather than withdrawing from society (Kübler-Ross, 2011). When these activities were meaningful, the old get help by replacing the lost life role after retirement. The activities also reduce the social pressure limiting a person’s life. One of the critics that activity theory faced was that some elders did not remain active. The critics are that the activity is much of an individualistic approach (Kübler-Ross, 2011). The ability of some elderly to be active is hard because their gender, social class, and poverty affecting their mental and physical health.
Both theories are linked to the functionalist perspective on aging, which claims that individuals with better resources and continue to be active in other roles exhibits better adjustment to the aging process. According to functionalism, the elderly ought to be encouraged to disengaged from their previous roles to allow younger persons to assume important roles. It claims that withdrawal from important roles would allow older people to focus on tasks that match their mental and physical decline. Society found ways to give young people authority as older people disengage from other roles and associate themselves with appropriate roles for their physical and mental decline. The theory suggests that the elderly will soon pass away and society must learn to function without their presence (Kübler-Ross, 2011). In this manner, there was a smooth transformation in society as the younger generation takes over from the elderly.
Kübler-Ross, E. (2011). Questions and answers on death and dying: A companion volume to on death and dying. Simon and Schuster.