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Beyond Successful and Active AgeingA Theory of Model Ageing$
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Virpi Timonen

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781447330172

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447330172.001.0001

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Critique of Successful Ageing Models

Critique of Successful Ageing Models

(p.13) Two Critique of Successful Ageing Models
Beyond Successful and Active Ageing

Virpi Timonen

Policy Press

This chapter traces the evolution of successful ageing concepts. Rowe and Kahn’s model of successful ageing became popular because it presented a re-orientation away from loss and pathology and towards growth and adherence to patterns adopted in mid-life. The outcome of this orientation has been either to deny all deficits by declaring that all older adults are (in their own way) ageing successfully, or to create new divisions through increasingly elaborate definitions of who is deemed to be ageing successfully. The chapter argues that successful ageing now belongs to everybody who wants to claim it: ‘I think I am ageing pretty successfully, ergo I am ageing successfully’. On the other hand, successful ageing – as a result of the efforts of those who are engaged in the academic endeavour of slicing it thinner and thinner – is becoming a marker of exceptional achievement, an elite preserve of those who are luckiest in their genes and most persevering in their efforts to stay youthful (or, ideally, both). Successful ageing has become a deeply self-contradictory concept. Despite its evident limitations, many gerontologists are reluctant to criticise or abandon the concept: this indicates that they have become stakeholders in the new ageing enterprise of modelling ageing.

Keywords:   successful ageing, rowe and kahn, ageing enterprise, ageing concepts

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