Task One : Comparing a range of definitions as they apply to Disability and Aging
- Disability according to WHO
According to the World Health Organization, “ Disabilities is a term that covers impairments, restrictions in participations and limitations in ones activity. An impairment is seen as a problem in body function and it’s structure; a limitation in activity is a difficulty an individual may encounter when performing an action or task; while the restriction in participation is a problem in an individuals life situation.”
As stated on this source, disability is seen as not just a health problem but a complex phenomenon that shows the interaction between features of a persons body and features of society that they live in. It is said that people with disabilities has the same health needs as of those as non-disabled people, like for example disabled people also need immunizations, cancer screenings and treatments for other medical conditions, illnesses or diseases that they might have.
b) Disability according to SSC State Services Commission of NZ
The New Zealand Disability Strategy describes disability as,
“Individuals do not have disability instead what individuals have are impairments. And these impairments may be physical,sensory,psychiatric,neurlogical, intelletual or other impairments. When people creates barriers the disability process happens because they take no account of people living with impairments in ther world.”
According to this, disability is only a perceived idea , of how non-impaired people view people with impairments. And if people would change their view of impaired individuals then people that has ” disability” would just be people that has impairments and they will be able to function in society if we give them an environment they can work around with.
c) Disability according Government of Western Australia / Disabilities Services Commission
According to the Disabilities Services Commission of Western Australia , “ A disability is a condition that continues on to restrict activities in the everyday life. They define disability as:
- Being attributed to an intellectual,psychiatric,cognitive,neurolgical,sensory or physical impairment
- Permanent or may likely be permanent
- Chronic or acute
- Reduced capacity of an individual to cmmunicate, interact socially, learn, move and wil need continouos support.”
As stated on this source , disability is an impairment that will restrict a persons movement and functioning that is caused by a multitude of physiological and external factors. It is said that most restrictions that people with disability may encounter can be overcome by using appropriate tools and utilizing services specifically designed for their impairments.
- In your own words compare those definitions and identify the similarities and differences between them
According to the sources I have used, they define disability as being attributed to a multitude of impairments such as an intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairment or a combination of those impairments that makes them unable to perform certain tasks effectively or none at all. It is stated that a person with a disability has the reduced ability to communicate , interact , learn and move and will be needing assistance in their daily lives. But the sources also gave different views and definitions on how they view disability.
One of those differences is that according to the State Services Commission of New Zealand, a disability is a process and not a condition, therefore a person is disabled only because of the perception of society and their attitudes towards people that have impairments. Society does provide them an environment in which they can become productive and function with the abilities they possess, instead society views them as people that cannot contribute and has no useful abilities.
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Another difference is that according to WHO disability is categorized under two terms, which are impairment and limitations. Impairment is seen as a problem in the way the body, parts of the body or a specific part of the body fail to function, while limitation is seen as difficulty in performing certain tasks or actions.
The Disabilities Services Commission of the Government of Western Australia see disability as being chronic or a condition that has endured and will endure for a long time and acute which means an abrupt onset or occurrence of an impairment. They view disability as being one of permanent or temporary nature.
1.2 Comparing 3 (three) definitions of aging
- Aging according to US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Aging
According to the National Institute on Aging of the US Department of Health and Human Services aging is defined as , “ Aging is a reflection of all the changes that occur all throughout our lives. As we grow, develop and mature. For young people aging wil be exciting because they will have late bedtimes and longer curfew hours. And during middle age there might be a grey hair or two. For a marathon runner he will not be able to run as fast like when he was 20 now that he is 60. There are varying factors that will affect aging.”
As defined in this source, aging is a reflection of all the changes that happens through the course of our entire life. The growth, development and maturity which thus entails that aging in a broad sense is a change in our biology, our psychology, our environment and our cognitive abilities.
b) Aging according to senescence.info , author Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, PHD
According to the author on senescence.info , “ Aging can be just a passing of time and seen a just a normal biological process of getting older. Some people call this senescence. And some have defined it as a progress in which humans will inevitably die.
Aging is viewed as a complex process that is composed of three features:
1) Increase in likelihood of death as we age; 2) changes within the body that will lead to deterioration of internatl functions and 3) the increased risk of catching infections and diseases as people age. It is a progressive decline in bodily functions, and it is an intricate process of life.”
As defined on this source, aging is described as leading to the process of death or mortality due to the biological process of growing older, as the body loses the ability to function with efficiency and it becomes vulnerable to environmental factors including illnesses and diseases.
c) Aging according to Age and Aging Journal , Auckland Library , Digital Library
According to the journal , “ Aging is the result of a complex interaction of the genetic make up and the environment we live in. As people age it is but normal to suffer certain diseases and illnesses so we cannot discount it as a factor in the aging process. Aging may also be explained as the body’s response to stress that can lead to physical and chemical damage, infections and trauma. Aging can also be attributed as a by product of action in the genes or the natural selection process that deteriorates as we age.”
According to this source , aging is defined as the chemical processes that occur within the cellular level of our bodies and the various factors of genes, gene mutations and the different phenotypes which affect how our bodies change in accordance with the cellular changes that occur during the Aging process.
- In your own words compare those definitions and identify the similarities and differences between them
According to the sources I have used, they define Aging as a complex process affected by varying physiological, biological, environmental and social factors that contribute on how Aging progresses. They state that Aging is not only about the external characteristics of our physicality, like the changing color of our hair or the wrinkling of our skin, but a more in depth analysis reveals that a lot of factors that we encounter in our lives affect the Aging process.
Some differences on how the sources define Aging can be seen with how the National Institute of Aging view it in a more positive way. They state that Aging is attributed to how a person grows, develops and matures through the course of life. Therefore, they view Aging as a state of mind , an accumulation of knowledge and experiences as one goes through life.
However according to Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, PHD on senescence.info Aging is more on the most basic and primal note. According to his research, Aging is a gradual and progressive decline in how well our body functions over time, our body’s susceptibility to illnesses and diseases as we grow older because our immune system will weaken as we age and that Aging is an inevitable path leading towards death.
The Age and Aging Journal defines Aging on a cellular level. Stating that as part of Aging process diseases and illnesses contribute on how we age. And the level of Aging is widely affected by our genes, how genes mutate and phenotypes which affect how our body will change according to the cellular changes inside us during the Aging process.
1.3 Comparing theories of disability and aging
The Medical Model
The Medical Model defines disability as being caused by an illness or medical condition. It is said that disability is directly caused by trauma, disease, or other health conditions and people that have disabilities need sustained medical care provided by professionals.
The Medical Model promotes the view that a disabled person is someone who is dependent on others and needs care to be provided to them.
Psychosocial theories of Aging states that Aging is correlated to human development such as an individuals change in cognitive functions, behaviours, roles, relationships and coping ability and social changes. This theory does not describe how older people could be treated or what the social changes are but they describe what Aging implies and factors important to the care of older people can be derived from this factors.
- Age – is the period in time in which a person has been living
- Gender – refers to the roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that society deem appropriate for a man and a woman
- Class – is an individual or groups position within hierarchal social structure. It is associated with socio-economic status including variables such as occupation, education, income, wealth and place or residence.
4. Ethnicity – refers to a persons language, culture, history, socio-economic and political factors, geographic origin of ancestry, nationality and beliefs and traditional practices.
Age in relation to the Medical Model in Disability
Age is the period in time in which a person has been living, and according to the Medical Model a disability is caused by trauma, disease or other health conditions. The implication of age in relation to the Medical Model is that, as a person grow older or “age” our body’s immune system becomes weaker as do our bones and muscles, this makes older persons susceptible to infections and diseases therefore causing disability. For example a 20 year old persons lung is much more stronger than an 85 year old, therefore if both of them are exposed to pneumonia there is a high probability that the 85 year old person will die and the 20 year old will just need some medications and he will be alright.
Age in relation to Psychosocial Theory in Aging
Age is the period in time in which a person has been living, and according to the Psychosocial Theory of Aging , it is said that Aging is correlated to the human development including the change in cognitive functions, behaviours, roles, relationships and coping ability and social changes. The implication of age in relation to the Psychosocial Theory of Aging is that as a person grows older so does his/her abilities and knowledge, collection of memories and emotions that shape a persons personality and how he/she views life, life experiences and the social circle they move around in contribute to how a person ages.
Gender in relation to the Medical Model in Disability
Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women, and according to the Medical Model a disability is caused by trauma, disease or other health conditions. The implication of gender in relation to the Medical Model is that since society dictates what should and should not be done according to gender, the diseases and types of trauma that a male and female will have that will lead to disability will be different for a male and a female. For example in terms of trauma, in Saudi Arabia females are not allowed to drive vehicles and only males are allowed to, therefore there will be a markedly increased number of trauma cases for male leading to disability than females.
Gender in relation to the Psychosocial Theory in Aging
Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women, and according to the Psychosocial Theory of Aging , it is said that Aging is correlated to the human development including the change in cognitive functions, behaviours, roles, relationships and coping ability and social changes. The implication of gender in relation to the Psychosocial Theory is that a male and female will have different life experiences, developments in cognitive functioning, behaviours, roles relationships and coping ability and social changes so the way that they will age will be different from each other. One example of this is regarding roles and relationships, coping ability and social changes in a Muslim culture like Saudi Arabia. A male can interact with anyone they want to interact with and there is no restriction regarding this, but females are not allowed to talk to males that are not their husband or immediate family member. Therefore the females have less exposure to the outside world and their coping abilities in social situations will be poor compared to the males and this will reflect on how they age.
Class in relation to the Medical Model in Disability
Class is an individuals affiliation within a social hierarchical structure that is associated with an individuals socio-economic status. and according to the Medical Model a disability is caused by trauma, disease or other health conditions. The implication of class in relation to the Medical Model is that, the type of trauma, disease or other health condition leading to disability that a person may have will depend on where he is in the socio-economic structure. An example of this will be a person of low socio-economic background contracts diabetes. Since he is of low socio-economic status he will be unable to seek medical attention, purchase and take medications, and eat a healthy diet, he can suffer from kidney failure as a complication and therefore be unable to work and this will cause disability. Whereas a person of high socio-economic status can easily access medical care and attend to all his needs and his diabetes would not lead to complications and become a disability if he will follow medical advice.
Class in relation to the Psychosocial Theory in Aging
Class is an individuals affiliation within a social hierarchical structure that is associated with an individuals socio-economic status, and according to the Psychosocial Theory of Aging , it is said that Aging is correlated to the human development including the change in cognitive functions, behaviours, roles, relationships and coping ability and social changes. The implication of class in relation to the Psychosocial Theory is that, the quality of life of a person , of how he ages and develops through his life will depend on his socio-economic status.For example, a person of high socio-economic status is said to be a person who can age well, because of financial stability he is able to access services that are not available to a person of low socio-economic status. He has the capability and capacity to sustain his cognitive improvements and sustain all levels of development throughout his life. His life experiences will be enriched and he can achieve quality Aging.
Ethnicity in relation to the Medical Model in Disability
Ethnicity refers to a persons language, culture, history, socio-economic and political factors, geographic origin of ancestry, nationality and beliefs and traditional practices, and according to the Medical Model a disability is caused by trauma, disease or other health conditions. The implication of ethnicity on the Medical Model is that the type of disease or trauma a person may have will depend on his ethnical background. There are certain diseases that will lead to disability that affects only a certain ethnic group due to genetics, diet and cultural practices. For example people of African origin has prevalent cases of sickle anemia, instead of a round red blood cell , the red bloods are shaped like a crescent moon, which causes them to lump together and block blood vessels which causes severe pain to the person affected. The pain they experience usually lasts for hours or some even for days.
Ethnicity in relation to the Psychosocial Theory in Aging
Ethnicity refers to a persons language, culture, history, socio-economic and political factors, geographic origin of ancestry, nationality and beliefs and traditional practices, and according to the Psychosocial Theory of Aging , it is said that Aging is correlated to the human development including the change in cognitive functions, behaviours, roles, relationships and coping ability and social changes. The implication of ethnicity in relation to aging is that how a person ages is affected by a persons ethnical background. Because people from different parts of the world have practices that are unique to them, this will affect their development and their aging process. How they live their day to day lives and how they deal with the daily experiences will vary according to their culture.
WHO. (2014). Disabilities. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/topics/disabilities/en/
State Services Commission of NZ. (2014). Chapter One: Defining disability. Retrieved from http://www.ssc.govt.nz/node/1671
Disabilities Services Commission , Government of Western Australia. (2014). What is Disability. Retrieved from http://www.disability.wa.gov.au/understanding-disability1/understanding-disability/what-is-disability/
National Institute on Aging, US Department of Health and Human Services. (2011). Biology of Aging, What is Aging?. Retrieved from
De Magalhaes, J.P. (2013) What is Aging. Retrieved from http://www.senescence.info/aging_definition.html#Demographic_Measurements_of_Aging
Dyer, Christopher A.E., and Alan J. Sinclair. (1998). The premature ageing syndromes: insights into the ageing process. Age and Ageing 27.1 (1998): 73+. GALE|A21113303 . Student Resources in Context. Retrieved from
WHO. (2014). Gender. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/gender/whatisgender/en/
- Jaqueline Villaflores
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