The process of aging is a complex and intricate process that affects people on a wide range of scales. Aging has physical, emotional, mental, social, economic, and cultural implications. All of these factors are addressed and researched by social sciences, which creates and generates numerous pieces of information about the notion of aging. However, the given breadth of data on the subject is due to the broad impact and influence of the process of aging and its multifaceted nature.
It is important to indicate that aging is a process of getting older. In other words, the statement that most research addresses age-related issues and aging itself is incorrect. It is stated that “the lifelong manifold process of aging implicates biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors that interact over time and across places in complex ways to direct and temporally organize the shapes and boundaries of lives” (Bengtson & Settersten, 2016, p. 428). Therefore, the process is broad, long, and deep, which is substantiated by the fact that it takes place throughout one’s lifetime. It is also highly integrative and cannot be fully observed.
On the basis of the statements presented above, it is safe to state that aging is not a mere biological process in the context of human existence. One’s age impacts his or her social and psychological states regardless of biological factors of the process. For example, a person might be relatively healthy and functional for an older adult but still experience the effect of widening socioeconomic stratification and inequality. Therefore, under the perspective of exclusion of age-related issues, such an individual would not be of interest to the research of aging. However, the non-biological impacts of aging are substantial and significant, which is why it is important to focus efforts on these problems through social research and study.
A thorough analysis of the social implications of aging is not only important from an academic standpoint but also a practical one. It is stated that “theories of social capital and research in social connectedness and aging point to several areas in which policy and practice can improve well-being in the last third of life” (Bengtson & Settersten, 2016, p. 422). In other words, researching the overall complexity of aging as well as its breadth, provides effective solutions to many problems associated with the given process. Learning more about these aspects is critical “because quality relationships promote good health, identifying those at risk for social isolation is the first step in increasing well-being at older ages” (Bengtson & Settersten, 2016, p. 422). Therefore, social elements cannot be fully separated from biological and health-related ones due to their tight interconnectedness.
It would be possible to separate aging from age-related issues if there were clear boundaries between biological factors and social ones. However, the research highlighted the fact that one’s health and well-being are directly influenced by social elements, such as socioeconomic status, family, and other forms of social support (Bengtson & Settersten, 2016). Thus, Marshall’s statement about the field is both incorrect and impractical, even if it was correct.
In conclusion, one should note the general breadth and depth of the research on aging is the result of the overall complexity of the process. It is highly difficult to separate the biological factors of aging from social and psychological ones. Aging is long, deep, and broad, which is why it is important to assess as such in order to derive effective solutions to the issues.
Bengtson, V. L., & Settersten, R. (2016). Handbook of theories of aging (3rd ed.). Springer Publishing Company.