In Anthropology of Aging we discuss various theories of aging. Theses theories include the activity theory and the disengagement theory. The activity theory is the idea that successful aging can be achieved by staying socially active. With positive activities older adults can have a healthier lifestyle and enhance ones quality of life. On the other hand, the disengagement theory is the idea that as the aging process continues, a person decreases in interaction. The individual at the point of becoming elderly, is at a time of retirement, kids who are now adults and less friends causes the individual to withdraw and decrease in activity.
It is seen as a natural behavior for older adults to do. While these two are the most popular theory among the aging, different cultures show different results of the theories. Harriet G. Rosenberg wrote an article titled Complaint Discourse, Aging and Caregiving among the Ju/’hoansi of Botswana. In the article she wrote about the Ju/’hoansi people who use a system of seniority that gives elderly folks power within the social life of the community. As Rosenberg states, “A senior person, male or female, has the right to decide who fits where in the kinship system and to determine an avoidance or a joking framework for social interactions” (pp. 3, Rosenberg). This shows that the elderly Ju/’hoansi play an important part in social interaction which demonstrates the activity theory. While this system may seem to work in this culture, the Ju/’hoansi who support the idea of adult children to care for the elderly had incidents of neglect and abandonment of the elderly. While Ju/’hoansi society show no signs of elderly adults disengaging from society, caregivers who are mainly the adult children, spouse, or siblings can force these elderly into disengagement.
Even though the Ju/’hoansi elderly are interactive with others, there are incidents of abandonment. Caregivers must take the burden of caring for the elderly, there are at times where a caregiver could not care of the elderly adult anymore and was a few or the only one caregiver, they would admit defeat and leave the elderly. This event would be called na a tsi which means “to leave in the bush” But because of the tales of neglect and abandonment, and the improvement on elderly care, by the mid-1980s events of abandonment were rare.
So overall, even though both theories can exist, the Ju/’hoansi prove that with an active lifestyle they have successfully aged. We need these theories about aging because it allows us to understand the behaviors and process of aging better. By understanding this, we can improve how caregivers should act, improve home situations, and provide way for elderly to be more active and social. By using them as guidelines, we can focus on how to try and prevent certain outcomes that can be negative to a persons life and provide a more positive life to the elderly.