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Janet Belsky


Janet Belsky s Experiencing the Lifespan, 2e Chapter 13: Later Life: Cognitive and Socioemotional Development Robin Lee, Middle Tennessee State University – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Janet Belsky

Janet Belskys Experiencing the Lifespan, 2e
  • Chapter 13
  • Later Life Cognitive and Socioemotional

Robin Lee, Middle Tennessee State University
Understanding Later Life
  • The median age of the population will change
    dramatically in the next 25 years.
  • Median age the age at which 50 of a population
    is older and 50 is younger.
  • In Europe, 1 in 4 people will be over 65.
  • In North American, 1 in 6 will be over 65.
  • Although mainly a developed world issue, in the
    developing world the percent of older adults will
    rise the most over the next quarter century.

Why is the population changing?
  • Life expectancy increases
  • In the U.S., late life expectancy - number of
    additional years a person can expect to live once
    reaching age 65.
  • now almost 20 years
  • Baby boomers entering later life
  • Baby boomers are reaching 60s.
  • Declining birth rates
  • Recall that fertility has dipped well below the
    replacement rate in Europe.

Exploring Two Elderly Stages
  • Young-old (60s and 70s)
  • Typically healthy, relatively wealthy
  • The old-old (80 and older)
  • More likely to be physically frail and poor
  • These two groups help explain contradictory
    stereotypes about later life.
  • The upbeat, vigorous older adult experiencing new
    adventures such as travel, etc. vs. the depressed
    institutionalized elder who is experience serious
    illness such as dementia.

Test your understanding of the elderly
  • Insert Table 13.1 on page 393

Understanding memory in later life
  • People are more likely to attribute forgetfulness
    to memory loss in older adults (vs. young or
    middle-age adults).
  • Older people are hypersensitive to their memory
    lapses. (Am I getting Alzheimers disease?)
  • For older adults, memory loss is a top-ranking
  • Low memory self efficacy - giving up and thinking
    I cant remember at my age - insures that
    memory will be worse.

Memory and older adults the facts
  • Research indicates that memory abilities do
    worsen in older adults.
  • Ability to recall, remembering content, recalling
    where objects are located
  • Older adults have difficulties with divided
    attention a difficult memory challenge
    involving memorizing material while
    simultaneously monitoring something else.
  • Time pressure increases difficulties with memory.
  • Time pressure when learning something totally new
    (fluid tasks) is particularly problematic.

Information-Processing and memory change
  • Working memory process of transforming
    information into more permanent storage - worsens
    with age.
  • Frontal lobe deterioration may cause this smaller
    bin space and/or the loss of the ability to
    selectively attend.
  • Physiological result older people use more of
    their brain to work difficult material through
    their memory bins.

Memory System Perspective
  • According to Memory System Perspective, memory is
    divided in 3 types
  • Procedural Information remembered automatically
  • Physical skills or complex motor activity (ex.
    riding a bicycle)
  • Most resilient last to go in patients with brain
  • Resides in a different (lower) area of the brain
  • Semantic ability to recall facts
  • George Washington as first president
  • Elderly can perform as well on this type of
    memory as young
  • Moderately resilient long-lasting crystallized
  • Episodic the ongoing events of daily life
  • Recalling isolated events (what you had for
    breakfast last Tuesday)
  • Highly fragile in everyone
  • Where real differences are seen between young and

Interventions Keeping memory fine-tuned (at any
  • Use Selective Optimization with Compensation
  • Selectively focus on what you need to remember
  • Work hard to encode the information.
  • Write things down (e.g. take notes) so you dont
    need to remember on your own.
  • Use Mnemonic Techniques - strategies to make
    things emotionally vivid
  • Basic principle if its vivid emotionally we
    remember it (try to get a visual image)
  • Enhance memory self-efficacy
  • With extra effort, memory can be good.
  • Older people who are conscientious can improve

Socioemotional Selectivity Theory
  • Socioemotional Selectivity Theory the time left
    to live affects priorities and social
  • Young people focus on the future
  • engaged in unpleasant activities because of
    obligations (I need to do this to become X, Y or
  • Older adults focus on making the most of present
  • Social priorities shift to being with closest
    attachment figures (Let me spend this precious
    time with family!)
  • Has the potential to be the happiest time of

Reprioritizing our lives in later life
  • According to socioemotional selectivity theory,
    we tend to reprioritize our lives as we get
  • Refusing to let insulting remarks pass
  • Not wasting time on unpleasant people
  • Spending more time with those closest to us
  • Carefully choosing social obligations

Eriksons psychosocial stage in later life
  • Integrity vs. Despair
  • According to Erikson, reaching integrity means
    reviewing ones life and making peace it.
  • Having a sense of usefulness and meaning in
    present life
  • Having a sense of self-efficacy feeling in

Tips for using the research on memory and emotions
  • Give people more time to learn difficult new
    material and provide a less distracting
  • Dont stereotype the elderly as having a bad
    memory reinforce the message that with work,
    anyones memory can be good.
  • Give older adults chances to exercise their
    personal passions (recall, being emotionally
    involved, fosters memory).
  • Dont expect older people to automatically want
    to make new friends at their age.
  • Dont stereotype the elderly as unhappyassume
    the reverse is true in the young-old years but
    understand that depression is a serious risk when
    a person is frail and isolated.

Examining Retirement
  • Most U.S. adults retire well before the
    traditional marker, age 65 (retirement age is
    close to 60).
  • Because, on average, we live another 20 years,
    after retirement it is now a full stage of life.
  • Retirement depends on governments offering
    programs enabling their citizens to live without
  • Therefore, in countries without a government
    sponsored programs (mainly in the developing
    world), people must stay on the job until they
    physically can not work.

Countries offering government funded retirement
Retirement and other Countries
  • Germany wonderful government support
  • First government-funded retirement program
    developed in 19th century
  • System designed to keep people financially
  • Government replaces ¾ of persons working income
    for life
  • Stipends increases to standard of living, so
    people get more financially comfortable with age
  • China relying on family and feeling insecure
  • Offers no government-funded retirement plan
  • Citizens are encouraged to save for retirement
  • Expectation is that children will take care of
    their parents
  • However, shift is occurring where government is
    stepping in and children feel less obligation to
    take care of parents.
  • U.S. deteriorating pensions and savings some
    guaranteed government support
  • Social Security government-funded program
  • Pension plans savings accounts of employees

U.S. Retirement Social Security
  • Social Security
  • Developed by FDR in the Great Depression
  • Operates as a safety net
  • Pay into it and get funds when at retirement
  • Designed to keep people from being destitute not
    to fund a comfortable life
  • The only income source for most low wage workers.
  • One problem is that the systems offers one of the
    lowest stipends in developed nations.

U.S. Retirement Pension Plans
  • Pensions often employer-linked
  • Workers put aside a portion of their paycheck
  • Often matched by employer
  • Funds placed in tax-free account
  • At retirement, person either gets regular
    pay-outs or one lump sum
  • Often not available at low wage jobs
  • In the financial crisis of 2008, pension plans
    were affected dramatically.
  • Changes in pensions plans is causing more
    bankruptcies among middle adults.
  • Also causing many to postpone retirement of many

Deciding to retire
  • Factors that many consider
  • Enough money to life without working (top ranking
  • Physically ability to keep working (more apt to
    occur among low income workersespecially those
    in physically demanding jobs)
  • Job satisfaction choosing to work after
    retirement age due to liking the job.
  • Age discrimination can affect retirement
  • Age discrimination illegally laying off workers
    or failing to hire or promote them on the basis
    of age.
  • Is illegal in the U.S.
  • However, many corporations offer early buyouts
  • May be used by large corporations due to high
    salaries of older employees

Retirement positive or negative?
  • Positive
  • Physical and mental health
  • Married
  • Financial stability
  • Consider retirement as a challenge a new phase
    of life
  • Leisure activities
  • Volunteering
  • Negative
  • Not leaving work by choice forced retirement
  • Financial concerns
  • Health concerns

Summing up retirement
  • Retirement is an at-risk stage of life
  • Declining pensions plans
  • Strain on social security
  • Older workers are an at-risk group of employees
  • Age discrimination
  • Older people may be more at risk of being poor
  • High rates of poverty in the old-old (and among
    people who enter retirement relying just on
    Social Security).

  • Death of a spouse lifes most traumatic change
  • Understanding mourning
  • Obsession with the loved one and the events
    surrounding the death
  • Impulse to search for ones spouse (mirroring the
    attachment response that occurs in infancy)
  • Continuing bonds - Feeling that the spouse is
    physically there

Other Facts About Mourning
  • People gradually remake a new life, but the
    process normally takes at least a year or more.
  • Turning to religion helps (and many people do
    become more religious) within the first six
  • While the memory of the spouse evokes feelings of
    pain, after 2 years or when people are in the
    recovery (working model) phase they can think
    about their partner with bittersweet feelings.
  • People vary in the extent to which they are able
    to construct a new, satisfying life.

Who Tends to Have Special Trouble?
  • Widowhood mortality effect risk of death that
    occurs among surviving spouses
  • Men are more at risk, especially old-old men
  • Anyone with limited options for remaking a new
  • People highly dependent on just a spouse
  • People in male dominated cultures

Surviving Widowhood
  1. Develop a network of attachments and fulfilling
    identifies outside of your marriage before being
    widowed, to cushion the loss of your life love.
  2. You might want to draw on your faith in God,
    particularly in the first months, and use the
    feeling that your spouse is with you as you
    struggle to remake a competent new life.
  3. Take comfort from your children, but understand
    that, after some time, they will need to go on
    with their own lives. Your challenge is to reach
    out to fiends in order to help you construct
    meaning day by day.
  4. Graciously accept emotional support but dont
    let loved ones take over your life.
  5. Try to see this tragedy as a challenge, an
    opportunity for understanding that you can
    function on your own. You may find that you are
    more resilient than you ever thought.
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