Gerontology and Education: Theory's Contribution to Practice

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Gerontology and Geriatrics Education


Since the early 1970s, educational gerontology has been active in both researching and advocating continuing education for older persons. However, very little has been states in this growing body of literature about how education in the later years relates to the process of aging itself, that area of inquiry which has traditionally been researched and reported by the much older body of literature known as social gerontology. In this essay, two longstanding social gerontological theories are analyzed for the ways they explain interest and participation in adult education on the part of older persons. While neither the activity nor the disengagement theory is explicit in articulating a relationship between the aging process and the need to learn, both do so implicitly. Implications from these social theories for educational program development are made as are recommendations for examining the present practice of educators and health professionals.