Paper 5: Interventions to Promote Successful Aging

Eva Kahana, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
Case Western Reserve University

Boaz, Kahana, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Cleveland State University

Funded by NIH Grant NINR 10271. Assistance of the following colleagues and graduate students is appreciated: Jeffrey S. Kahana, Ph.D., Loren D. Lovegreen, Ph.D., Jane A. Brown, Ph.D., Julie Chaya, MA, Cory Cronin, MA, Relebohile Morojele, MA, and Sarah Schick, BA


Interventions to promote health and well-being among older adults are widely implemented and recommended in an effort to enhance quality of life in old age. Yet, the very idea that there is a need for interventions to achieve success is at variance with prevailing orientations about successful aging (Rowe & Kahn, 1998). To the extent that successful aging presupposes good health, financial and social resources, and adaptability, there should be little need for interventions to achieve success in late life. Such assumptions would be warranted if we define successful aging as an outcome rather than a process.  Interventions could only assist those individuals who are not aging successfully, as defined by poor physical health or cognitive limitations. In the context of outcome oriented models of healthy and successful aging, such interventions would be viewed as prosthetic measures to aid vulnerable, and by definition, unsuccessful elders.

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