As people grow older, they face many changes. With aging, the ability to do daily activities (functional ability) declines to some degree in every person. Also, older people, on average, tend to have more disorders and disability than do younger people. But the changes that accompany aging are more than just changes in health. As people age, they are often faced with events that can dramatically alter their lives. For example, they may retire from the workforce, lose a loved one, or change their living arrangements.
Whether the changes that accompany aging are viewed as a blessing or a curse may hinge on people's ability to cope with or adapt to change. Successful coping skills are often linked with how well older people stay connected with family and friends, with their community, and with their own values and sense of purpose. In general, older people are well able to cope with the many changes that occur in later life. These transitions can be substantially eased with planning and preparation as well as with outside help tailored to individual needs.
Last full review/revision December 2008 by Terrie Fox Wetle, MS, PhD