The concept of successful aging has become another controversial issue in the field of medical practice as well as social lifestyle. Achieving a healthy life condition despite of the aging process can be considered a success considering the vast health risks present both internally and externally implicating by aging.
The defining criteria of successful aging are health and age, which comprise a broad scope of subcomponents that influence the entire self-perception of an individual.
Aging process and the concept of health may initially emphasize success in the physical condition (e.g. having no serious ailments, mobile, can still proceed to daily tasks, self-management capacity, etc.). However, successful aging, in its core concept, comprise of (1) social health, (2) emotional stability, (3) good psychological condition, and (4) capable of self-care. These factors constitute the illustration of an energetic elderly.
As far as the stereotypic definition of healthy aging, an illustration of an energetic elderly needs to possess high levels of physical, mental and social function, and not merely the absence of any physical disabilities or impairments. In fact, energetic elderly does not entirely rely on the physical sense, but on significant components that can foster generativity and integrity.
Such stereotype definition of energetic elderly and healthy aging has actually complemented the exact World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health, “as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not simply the absence of disease.” In such conceptual emphasis, the illustration of an energetic elderly relies expectedly to the idea of man as a social being and not merely a structured physical form.
Aging and the accompanied of bodily changes are the least considered components in the definition of energetic elderly. Significantly, aging is a non-modifiable and natural stage in life; hence, it is impractical to consider such component especially if it can no longer be modified or enhanced.
In such logical sense, no doubt the famed theory of Erik Erikson (psychosocial) has considered the component, generativity and integrity, as the highest priority during the latter stages of life. Healthy aging is far more than the maintenance of physical wellness, but most significantly the intangible areas of a human being.
Meanwhile, in consideration to the degrading physical form due to aging, two concepts of decline have been produced: (1) normal health decline, and (2) diseased health decline. The effects of aging process in the process of physical or health decline are exaggerated; however, the components that can modify the actually condition, such as social, psychological, and behavioral factors, are commonly being overlooked.
Under these conditions, the illustration of an energetic elderly is neither of the two proposed components. The normal process of aging can obviously produce a health and energetic aging individual despite of the physical decline; however, if one of the essential components has been damaged, the normality of aging directly collapses affecting the sense of wellness (e.g. an elder with disturbed psychological being).
Meanwhile, a diseased aging can still experience a healthy overview of self, value, and self-generativity and integrity as long as these intangible components are intact. Hence, health care and aging emphasizing in the illustration of an energetic elderly largely depends people’s perception of their social, psychological, emotional and behavioral sense of well being, and not simply pathologically or geriatric-based ideology.
The Argument and Portrayal of Elderly in Story
In the 1985 science fiction film directed by Ron Howard entitled, Cocoon, the events of the story have revolved in a group of elderly people who have been rejuvenated by the high formed technology of Aliens. The message of the story lies in three symbolical groups who largely contributed to the portrayal of the story’s main argument: (1) the group of Antereans (argumentative mediator), (2) the three local residents – Ben, Arthur and Joe, and (3) Bernie and his dying wife.
Each group has performed significant place in the argument of the whole story. From the earlier discussion, the energetic elderly does not entirely rely on the physical well-being but largely dependent on those intangible inner components. Considering such idea, the argument lies in logical sense of determining the most appropriate portrayal of an energetic elderly: Bernie versus the Residents of the Retirement home represented by the three local residents.
The group of four Antereans headed by their Head Anterean, Walter, is on a mission of saving the other twenty-members of their kind who has been trapped on Earth during the collapse of their initially established territory, which they called the Civilization of Atlantis. According to the myth, the outpost built by the Antereans has been sank by the raging earthquakes of the ocean and in order for other members of their society to escape the natural turmoil, twenty-members need to stay to facilitate their transport.
Hence, in an effort of rescuing their kind, these aliens have disguised themselves as humans and occupied an apartment with pool near the retirement home. In order for them to revive and rescue the other members of their society, they have to charge the pool with their life force energy, and place the cocoon within the pool in order to rejuvenate them. Meanwhile, the three locals from the retirement home have curiously barged in the apartment and there they saw the clear pool water.
They have been indulged by their sensations and attracted to dip themselves within the pool, and from there on, they have felt the different feeling of being rejuvenated. However, the head Anterean has caught the locals using the pool, although eventually, Walter has decided to let them freely use the pool through a simple negotiation.
Time passed by and the other locals have learned the rejuvenating power of the pool through Bernie’s accidental emotional speech; hence, the locals have barged in the Antereans’ residence to dip themselves in the pool. The life force in the pool has depleted and its rejuvenating powers have disappeared.
The cocoons have all died and the aliens are unable to complete their mission. With the unexpected events, the Antereans have decided to offer the spare places to the elderly residents towards the aliens’ homeland wherein no aging or illness are present. In the end of the story, Bernie, believing the natural concept of human life, has decided to stay despite of the death of his wife, while others have joined the aliens’ crew.
In this scenario, the argument is on how the illustration of an energetic elderly is portrayed: (1) Bernie’s natural idea of healthy aging and energetic elderly, or (2) the three locals’ idea of health aging through physical rejuvenation.
The pessimist character of the story, Bernie, has always regarded life in its natural form as well as achieving death in the way the nature proposes it to be. Meanwhile, Art Selwyn, Joe Finley and Ben Lucket have regarded youth as the primary gift of what life has to offer by indulging themselves to the benefit of the pool.
Guided by the previously mentioned definition of healthy aging and energetic elderly, the portrayals of the characters are evaluated in accordance to the components of health. In terms of the physical conditions, all four characters are in the process of normal aging wherein the physical body starts to degenerate; however, Bernie’s wife, Rose, is in the process of diseased aging.
The Concept of Energetic Elderly
The three locals, Art, Joe and Ben, have considered aging as the process of becoming the unimportant or insignificant member of society. Considering the fact that they are physically degenerating due to aging, their psychological and emotional regards to self is also problematic as evidenced by their depression and frustration. Their youth has already passed and they realized that they are now counting the days as dysfunctional members of the society.
Art Selwyn: Joe loved the beach.
Ben Lucket: He didn’t give a shit about the beach. It was them smooth legged girls in them dental floss bikinis, that’s what he liked.
Meanwhile, Bernie, aside from his pessimistic view of life, is also confronted by the negative feelings of being an elder. Similar to his co-members, depression due to his current life, and frustration, due to the dying condition of his wife, are the emotions that define his last life.