Body image in older adults: a review
AbstractAIMS: To review the literature on body image perception, especially among the older adults, and its effects on the general self-esteem and, consequently, on quality of life for this age group. Gerontophobia and ageism are also discussed concerning their interference in successful aging. SOURCE OF DATA: Scientific original and review articles from the Medline/PubMed and Lilacs databases, using the key words body image perception, older adults, aging and ageism, were searched. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS: Aging is a continuous process that comes with a variety of losses from physical to functional and social, that all individuals will go through. These losses may promote a dissatisfaction with one’s body image as well as a lowering of overall self-esteem, sometimes leading to major morbidities such as depression. The concept of body image is defined as a psychological feeling that one has about his/her appearance and body functioning. As such, body image is a dynamic concept: it alters itself along the life course according to external and internal influences. Body image also bears a moderate relationship to self-esteem and psychosocial adjustment. CONCLUSIONS: Aging is a process that embodies many losses, leading frequently to lower self-esteem and thus a poorer quality of life. Body image distortion triggers feelings of worthlessness and lowers self-esteem which, together with the existing rejection of the aging process, contributes somewhat to a worse quality of life at a stage of life already full of uncontrollable losses.
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