Successful aging can be defined as aging accompanied with a low-risk for chronic diseases and high-functioning in regards to life engagement, physical activity, social interactions, and mental health (Cronin & Mundich, 2005). In pursuing successful aging, the elderly population should engage in life through interpersonal relationships and productive activity within their society. They must maintain their physical health through diet and exercise. This population should strive in their social interactions to optimize their support systems and interpersonal skills. They should also preserve their cognitive functions by mentally challenging themselves as often as possible. There is a significant amount of research suggesting that enhancement of cognitive and mental health, which promotes successful aging, may be achieved through caloric restriction, physical activity, cognitive intervention, stress reduction, and social programs (Depp, Vahia, & Jeste, 2010). This is useful for future Occupational Therapists, because it is a proactive way to prevent disease and sickness in the later years of life.
There is a linear decline in some bodily systems that occurs with age (Cronin & Mundich, 2005). However, this decline is variable and it’s not as rapid or widespread as most people believe (Cronin & Mundich, 2005). The specifics of this linear decline of the human body as a result of normal aging will be discussed in depth throughout the rest of this text along with some of the non-normal pathologies that are usually associated with aging. First, we aim to discuss motor and cognitive functioning throughout the later years of life. Throughout this section we will discuss the FIM and Home Falls Tests, which can be used by certified Occupational Therapists to assess an older individual’s cognitive and motor functioning within their everyday lives and environments. Secondly, we will relate language and cognition with successful aging while incorporating the use of the Lowenstein Cognitive Assessment. Lastly, we will convey the relationships between language, motor, and social relations with regards to successful aging. In an attempt to help future Occupational Therapists assess these three functions of daily living, we will discuss the practical use of the KELS assessment tool.
Depp, C., Vahia, I., & Jeste, D. (2010). Successful aging: focus on cognitive and emotional health. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 6, 527-550. doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.121208.131449.
Cronin, A. & Mandich, M. (2005). Aging. In P. Reynolds (Ed.), Human Development and Performance Throughout the Lifespan (pp. 308-309). Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.