Over the years, many terms have been used to describe and evaluate the factors and conditions that contribute to a fulfilling human life as optimal aging and successful aging.

Gregory Smith, Ph.D., Kent State professor of human development and family studies, says that the term optimal aging means that you live the best possible quality of life, given your current state. Keep reading resTORbio’s article to learn What Is Optimal Aging?

What is Healthy Aging?

What is healthy aging? How should it be defined? Many terms have been used. The most popular term is successful aging, as suggested by Rowe & Kahn.4 Other terms include aging well and effectively, robust aging5, positive aging, and elite aging.

According to Rowe, successful aging includes three components: no disease or disability, high cognitive and physical functioning, and active engagement in life.

On the other hand, usual aging refers to the most common form of aging that involves significant physiological changes and a substantial loss in a reserve capacity.

Explain the concept of optimal aging

These definitions have been uncomfortable for some. Many people over 65 have a chronic condition. The majority of over 85s have one or more chronic conditions and functional deficits.

Is it fair to call the majority of people over 85 unsuccessful? Failure is the opposite of success. What is the definition of failure? Is it its frailty? The world loves stories about people who overcome heart disease or cancer to return to fulfilling life activities. These people are not successful.

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These definitions tend to be based on a biomedical worldview, which focuses on disease and health. It is possible that a psychosocial orientation, which emphasizes the connection with others, humankind’s contributions, and creative work, could be a measure of success.

Optimal Aging: The ability to perform in all domains of life, including physical, functional, cognitive, and emotional. This can be achieved regardless of medical conditions. 1,2

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The Root of Optimal Aging

Baltes and Baltes first proposed optimal aging, which Walsh expanded. This is a useful way to address this need. This implies that, regardless of one’s health, one can still strive to maximize one’s abilities or happiness with life.

This concept is based on Fries’ concept of compression of mortality, which states that illness can be prevented into one’s final years of life but cannot be avoided.

The Root of Optimal Aging

The ideal aging process goes beyond good health, longevity, and a healthy lifestyle. It refers to the ability to function in many domains, including physical, functional, cognitive, and emotional.

This ability is grounded in the concept of adaptation. There are many opportunities to adapt and adjust to the changing circumstances of life.

The interindividual variability and the intraindividual flexibility that accompanies optimal aging are both accounted for.

Selection, optimization, and compensation are key to older adults adapting to the many challenges that come with aging. Some activities may be most meaningful and satisfying.

These activities can be made more enjoyable by changing behavior. Alternate methods or activities can be used to compensate for diminished or lost capacity.

Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982), a noted pianist, lived to be 90. He adapted over the years by (1) decreasing the number of pieces he played (selection); (2) putting in more practice (optimization); (3) decreasing the speed of playing before a fast move (compensation), and (4) increasing the speed of his playing when he enters the faster movement (compensation).

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A biopsychosocial perspective is necessary to see optimal aging. It does not require that there is no disease or disability. These problems can be seen as opportunities for growth and the development of new capabilities.

It uses a system perspective. Lower levels of the system affect higher levels and vice versa. The health field model (also known as the determinants of health model) is a useful model to explain the interrelationships between various aspects of the biopsychosocial approach for optimal aging.

It considers the entire health continuum, including the patient’s genetic and behavioral characteristics, the support system and social environment, psychological resources and stressors, and the physical environment.

Many senior doctors and many other medical professionals tend to concentrate on one component of this model (albeit it is expensive), which is disease management.

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Determinants of Health

  • Function
  • Maladies
  • Support system and social environment
  • Physical environment
  • Genetic endowment
  • Individual responses – Behavior and Biology
  • Healthcare system
  • Wellbeing

However, many of the health issues experienced by older people are affected by other factors. The patient’s support network influences rehabilitation outcomes.

A patient in a wheelchair may need to live at home or move into a ground-floor apartment. We are just beginning to understand the genetic endowment’s contributions.

Each component interacts with others in different ways throughout one’s lifetime. This dynamic process is complex, but optimal aging is possible because of its interaction.

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What Is Optimal Aging? FAQs

Is Optimal aging possible?

It is possible to take a preventive approach to your well-being and add more life to your older years. Age-friendly cities and other communities allow older adults to maintain social connections and a certain level of independence.

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What is the successful aging theory?

A theory of successful aging is a statement of the conditions of individual and social life under which the person gets a maximum of satisfaction and happiness, and society maintains an appropriate balance among satisfaction for the various groups which make it up to old, middle-aged, and young, men and women,


What is the difference between successful aging and optimal aging?

Optimal aging: the capacity to function across many domains physical, functional, cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual—to one’s satisfaction and despite one’s medical conditions. Successful aging:

  • Absence of disease and disability
  • High cognitive and physical functioning
  • Active engagement with life

At what age does your body start to decline?

Three things tend to happen to our muscles as we age, Professor Reaburn says. “The first is muscle strength and power decline linearly from around 30 or 35 to 50 years, then faster between 50 and 60 or 65, then drop off after 65.”


Why do some people not age?

For example, the genes responsible for energizing the skin to repair itself and make enough collagen may be more active in younger-looking people. These genes also have a positive effect on the skin’s moisture barriers and antioxidant levels. All this means fewer visible signs of aging

Source: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/beauty-hair/beauty-trends/news/a37899/theres-a-scientific-reason-why-some-people-dont-appear-to-age/


For describing how you want to age and deal with life’s changes, optimal aging is more realistic and useful than successful aging. Most all older people desire a meaningful, fulfilled, and independent life. As older people become more common, they will be more interested in what activities can increase their chances of aging well.


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