A comprehensive perspective on ageing, with a focus on potentials, and social and meaning needs of older adults

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


Dominant understandings of ageing depart from the assumption that old age is characterised by inevitable processes of decline and deterioration, both in physical and mental health and in social contacts and position in society. This bleak view of later life is not helpful to experience later life as a life stage with meaning and leads to the social exclusion of older people. Therefore, a paradigm shift towards a more comprehensive perspective on ageing is necessary.

Material and methods:
We conducted an extensive literature review and an empirical study in Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The empirical research consisted of interviews with older adults and (formal and informal) caregivers and case studies concerning six 'best practices' in the SEE ME project.

A comprehensive perspective on ageing considers the potentials of older people and their social and meaning needs. With age, social and meaning needs are changing. Older adults become more selective and prefer relationships and activities that are the most fulfilling. Having valuable social relations is also vital for the experience of meaning in life. In later life, adverse life events may cause a loss of purpose, less experienced possibilities for personal growth, or a diminished sense of coherence. Concepts that help think about older people's potentials are generativity, ego-integrity, and gerotranscendence.

A comprehensive perspective on later life requires person-centred care, which considers the older population's diversity and heterogeneity, recognises the older adults' desires, abilities, and supports them in developing and using their strengths and talents.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2022
Event26th Nordic Congress of Gerontology : Change and continuity - Odense, Denmark
Duration: 8 Jun 202210 Jun 2022
Conference number: ID: 35


Conference26th Nordic Congress of Gerontology
Abbreviated title26 NKG
Internet address

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