Aging can be defined as the physical, psychological and physiological changes that occur in the individuals’ lives after the stage of maturity. From the biological perspective, aging is a continuous process that begins since childhood. It usually entails the gradual alterations on the cellular and molecular levels as well as in the structure of the organs (Norman, 2010). This perspective also maintains that growth, physical maturation and puberty are natural parts of the development process, which usually starts when one is conceived and ends when an individual dies.
The proof of aging may be observed when a person starts having wrinkles. According to Norman (2010), some of the disadvantages experienced by human beings during the process of getting older include the onset of various health problems, disabilities and organs failures leading to death. As the reliability theory of aging claims, with the increase of the lifespan of species, the risk of failures also grows (Norman, 2010).
The biological perspective shows that aging is both molecular and genetic continuous process that starts early in life and progresses by inflicting damage on cells and tissues. The first stage is the passive aging where individuals experiencing it are basically unresponsive to it. People are unconscious about their sensations and how they impact their behavior during this stage. Besides, people tend to demonstrate less affection towards their environment. The second stage is identified as active aging. In this stage, the individuals start appreciating the value of physical fitness and the significance of maintaining healthy nutrition. Arora (2015) acknowledges that during this phase an individual seeks for motivation from an identified group. Durig the third period, proactive aging, people search for information about the optimal aging with the hope of changing and improving the quality of life they lead. This stage usually plays a critical role in enabling an individual comprehend the societal views about the process of getting older.
The fourth is the systematic stage where an individual realizes that in order to grow old in the best possible way, there must be quality interaction with the society which will provide the opportunities for growth and development (Arora, 2015). The fifth stage is the dynamic aging that is characterized by uninterrupted self-propelling cycle in the aspects of physiological and psychological progress. Arora (2015) states that in this phase an individual experiences a high level of self-esteem which is a requirement for evident in the last stage self-actualization. Finally, the sixth stage is the aging mastery. It is associated with Abraham Maslow’s view on achieving self-actualization. It is where a mature ego is explicit while the societal standards are reached. There is the awareness of integrity and self-motivation feelings inherent in this stage.
The most catastrophic experience that can have a great impact on the process of aging is smoking. It is classified as an unhealthy habit, which has similar effects as excessive alcohol consumption and lack of physical exercises. Smoking also destroys some of the internal tissues, which results in faster aging. As it was discovered, the act of smoking tobacco contributes to the development of wrinkles, which, in its turn, accelerates the aging process (Gullette, 2011). One of the researches has also proved that smoking has higher potential of provoking premature wrinkles on an individual’s face than even exposure to the sun. This happens because the heat that is emitted from the cigarette burns the skin directly, hence, changing the elastic fibers on its upper layer.
Belonging to particular culture can also impact the individual’s aging process. For instance, in China people have their system of beliefs, customs and practices that influences the aging process. They believe that the conception of ‘aging successfully’ means maintaining the physical beauty and healthy body (Chen, 1996). Therefore, they tend to perceive care for the aged as a family obligation. This point has a positive effect because the cost of living for the elderly people is relatively high and requires significant financial support for healthy living.
How Can We Help?
I have personally witnessed the case of a 74-year old man who lives in our neighborhood. He has been smoking pipe for the last twenty years, and this fact has greatly affected his aging process. The smoking habit has made his skin more wrinkled, especially around the mouth, compared to his wife who is 70 years old. The man has also been suffering from hypertension and diabetes that made him visually impaired. I can make conclusions from this case that unhealthy habits such as smoking can accelerate an individual’s aging process.
The most appropriate action to be taken for avoiding such incidences would be the organization of awareness campaigns informing the masses about the impacts of unhealthy habits on their aging process. The government also has an obligation of executing the significant policies that would minimize tobacco consumption, which leads to killing the internal tissues. This solution will decrease the rate of various ailments that tremendously influence the aging process.