Satisfying basic needs, both physically and mentally, is essential for the proper functioning of a human being at every stage of life. Some needs – such as physiological needs – remain the same throughout life, while others develop with age, experiences and roles. Seniors also have their needs of a higher order.

From the text you will learn:

  • what is the pyramid of needs according to Maslow,
  • how the higher-order needs of seniors are shaped.

The concept of need is defined in various ways. According to one of the most universal definitions, a need is a natural lack of an organism felt by a human, without which life becomes difficult or even impossible to satisfy.

Some needs – especially those of a physiological nature – remain the same throughout life and are necessary for normal functioning. Others shape with age, experiences, and roles. They are sometimes conditioned by social position and material possibilities. Many of them are called needs of a higher order , the satisfaction of which makes man define himself as a fulfilled and happy being.

Hierarchy of needs according to Maslow

The most famous and most widely used model of the hierarchy of human needs was created by the American psychologist Abraham Maslow. It was published in 1954 in the book „Motivation and Personality” and is commonly known as Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs .

According to Maslow, the needs are divided into:

  • physiological,
  • safety,
  • belonging and love,
  • respect and self-acceptance,
  • self-realization.

Their structure is hierarchical – the base of the pyramid are physiological needs and only after they are satisfied does the need for a higher hierarchy appear.

Higher order needs – examples among seniors

Aging is a natural process that cannot be stopped. Certain activities, such as a healthy diet, carrying out preventive examinations or physical activity of the elderly , slow it down. However, with the passage of time, every person develops diseases typical of old age, the loss of fitness progresses, and sometimes there is also stress related to, for example, financial problems.

Each of us, regardless of age and health condition, requires meeting both physiological needs and needs of a higher order . The physiological ones do not change – they include e.g. sleep, eating or drinking. However, the needs of the higher order of seniors are sometimes different from those observed in young people. What are these needs?

  • Need to belong – When retiring, many seniors feel empty and lonely. They feel excluded from the group to which they belonged for many years, which they cared for and devoted their energy to. Older people often have fewer acquaintances – the younger ones continue to work, and the older ones naturally leave. Then the need to belong in them can be strongly felt in them. The family plays a huge role in satisfying it.
  • The need to have a goal in life – professionally inactive seniors who do not follow the pace of life of their relatives, who do not find themselves in the modern world, often feel that their lives are becoming meaningless and take the form of passive waiting for their departure. It is important not to leave seniors alone, involve them in the life of the family, and enable them to pursue their passions and interests.
  • The need for recognition – it is felt at the family, social and professional levels. Older people want to be respected as grandparents and parents, as well as former employees – for what they have achieved professionally. Social contacts and treating the senior as a rightful member of the community with all the resulting rights are also important.
  • Cultural, socio-educational needs – seniors want to be close to current social, economic, political and cultural events, both by gaining knowledge about them through the media and by active participation (e.g. visits to theaters and museums, the opportunity to participate in elections) .

These are, of course, just a few examples – the needs of a higher order in seniors can be many more. It should be remembered that each elderly person has the opportunity to meet them – then the autumn of life can be cheerful and joyful!