Analyzing the human characteristics of the aged by using Maslow's theory of human needs

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The Human Characteristics of the Aged

Talking or thinking of the aged people, quite often people assume somewhat a biased attitude. To become old, it seems to be of a different species, socially, culturally, physically, sexually and financially. Many young people think that it is hard for them to understand the strange behaviors of the old. But if you learn something about Maslow's theory of human needs, you will have a better understanding about the aging people.

Maslow diagrammed his famous Hierarchy of Needs in the late 1960's in the shape of a pyramid. Physiological needs, safety needs, love needs, esteem needs and self-actualization arrange themselves from bottom to top in the pyramid. Physiological needs are the very basic needs such as air, water, food, sleep, sex, etc. When these are not satisfied we may feel sickness, irritation, pain, discomfort, etc. Safety needs have to do with establishing stability and consistency in a chaotic world.

These needs are mostly psychological in nature. For example, we all need the security of a home and family. Love and belongingness are next on the ladder. Humans have a desire to belong to groups: clubs, work groups, religious groups, family, gangs, etc. We need to feel loved by others, to be accepted by others. There are two types of esteem needs. First is self-esteem which results from competence or mastery of a task. Second, there's the attention and recognition that comes from others. The need for self-actualization is "the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming." Such people can seek knowledge, peace, esthetic experiences, self-fulfillment, and oneness with God, etc. Maslow believes that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs. As one need is satisfied, another new and higher need will emerge.