Reablement in need of theories of ageing: Would theories of successful ageing do?

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The reablement approach is becoming a popular social and health-care model in many Western countries, providing support strategies for older people experiencing impairment. Reablement programmes have been criticised for a lack of theories, explicating the understanding of the problem that it is intended to address, i.e. ageing and impairment in old age. We need to discuss the inherent theories in intervention programmes to question taken-for-granted assumptions about not only what works, but also how these assumptions affect the sociocultural models of ageing. Theories on successful ageing have been suggested as underpinning reablement. This article aims to present and discuss theories of successful ageing compared to key principles, components and outcomes in reablement. A medical and epidemiological, a psychological and a sociocultural theoretical approach to successful ageing are included. Contemporary reablement programmes mirror medical and psychological theories of successful ageing, including models of ageing that are associated with continuity, optimisation, selection, individuality and goal orientation. Most reablement programmes do not address sociocultural perspectives on ageing. As older people experience impairment in a pertinent liminality within and between the sociocultural values of the third and fourth age, it is important for reablement programmes and practice to consider the theoretical assumptions and underpinning theories of ageing and how to help older people balance between optimising capacity and accepting losses in their everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number7
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press.

    Research areas

  • critical gerontology, liminality, reablement, successful ageing

ID: 290245101