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Physical and Cognitive Development in Late Adulthood

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Title: Physical and Cognitive Development in Late Adulthood


1
Chapter 15
  • Physical and Cognitive Development in Late
    Adulthood

2
Life Span and Life Expectancy
  • Life span -- maximum number of years an
    individual can live
  • 120125 years remains unchanged
  • Life expectancy -- number of years that the
    average person, born in a particular year, will
    probably live
  • has increased 31 years since 1900
  • average U.S. life expectancy 78 years

3
Differences in Life Expectancy
  • International differences due to health
    conditions, medical care, etc.
  • Sex differences
  • women outlive males an average of 5 years
  • due to health attitudes, habits, lifestyles,
    occupation
  • biological factors -- females outlive males
    across species

4
Centenarians
  • Increasing numbers
  • 15,000 in 1980
  • 55,000 in 2008
  • Genes play a role
  • Also family history, health, exercise, education,
    personality, and lifestyle

5
Biological Theories of Aging
  • Evolutionary Theory of Aging
  • Natural selection has not eliminated many harmful
    conditions and nonadaptive characteristics in
    older adults
  • Natural selection is linked to reproductive
    fitness

6
Biological Theories of Aging
  • Cellular Clock Theory
  • as we age, cells become less capable of dividing
  • telomeres -- DNA sequences that cap chromosomes
  • as cells divide, telomeres become shorter and
    eventually cells can no longer divide

7
Biological Theories of Aging
  • Free Radical Theory -- people age because as
    cells metabolize energy, the by-products include
    unstable oxygen molecules known as free radicals
  • free radicals damage DNA
  • resulting damage can lead to range of disorders
    such as cancer and arthritis

8
Biological Theories of Aging
  • Hormonal Stress Theory -- aging in the bodys
    hormone system can lower resistance to stress and
    increase likelihood of disease
  • prolonged elevation of stress-related hormones
    associated with risk of chronic disease

9
The Aging and Adaptive Brain
  • The brain loses volume and weight
  • Some areas of brain shrink more than others
  • As brain ages, it adapts
  • Lack of dendrite growth may be lack of
    stimulation and activity in brain
  • Using both hemispheres may improve cognitive
    functioning

10
Physical Development
  • Inevitable if we live to old age
  • Wrinkles and age spots
  • Loss of height and weight
  • Slower movements
  • Exercise and appropriate weight lifting may help
    to reduce the decrease in muscle mass and may
    improve motor functions

11
Sensory Development
  • Vision
  • visual acuity, color vision, and depth perception
    decline
  • cataracts -- thickening of lens
  • glaucoma -- optic nerve damaged by pressure from
    fluid buildup
  • macular degeneration -- deterioration of retina

12
Sensory Development
  • Hearing
  • degeneration of cochlea
  • Smell and taste
  • most older adults lose some ability to taste
    and/or smell
  • Touch and pain
  • Changes in touch are not problematic
  • Decreased sensitivity to pain may mask injury and
    illness

13
The Circulatory System and Lungs
  • Blood pressure consistently over 120/80 should be
    treated to reduce threat of heart attack, stroke,
    or kidney disease
  • Lung capacity drops 40 percent between 20 and 80
    years even without disease
  • lungs lose elasticity, chest shrinks, and
    diaphragm weakens

14
Sexuality
  • Sexuality can be life-long
  • Aging changes sexual performance, especially in
    males
  • orgasm less frequent
  • erectile dysfunction
  • education may help deal with these issues

15
Health Problems
  • As we age, probability of illness increases
  • Arthritis and hypertension are most common
    chronic disorders
  • Low income is strongly related to health problems
    in late adulthood
  • Approximately three times as many poor as
    non-poor older adults report that chronic
    disorders limit their activities

16
Causes of Death in Older Adults
  • Nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults aged 6574 die
    of cancer or cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer is now the leading cause of death
  • In the 7584 and 85-and-over age groups,
    cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause
    of death

17
Arthritis
  • Arthritis -- inflammation of the joints,
    accompanied by pain, stiffness, and movement
    problems
  • Incurable disorder that affects hips, knees,
    ankles, fingers, and vertebrae
  • Symptoms reduced by drugs, range-of-motion
    exercises, weight reduction, and joint replacement

18
Osteoporosis
  • Osteoporosis -- extensive loss of bone tissue
  • Women are especially vulnerable it is the
    leading cause of broken bones in women
  • More common in non-Latina White, thin, and
    small-framed women
  • Related to deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D,
    estrogen, and lack of exercise

19
Accidents
  • Accidents are the sixth-leading cause of death
    among older adults
  • Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths in
    those 65 and older
  • Participation in an exercise class once a week
    for three years reduced the fall risk and the
    number of falling incidents

20
Exercise
  • Gerontologists recommend strength training in
    addition to aerobic activity for older adults
  • Weightlifting can preserve muscle mass
  • Exercise helps people maintain independence and
    prevents institutionalization
  • Increases longevity

21
Nutrition and Weight
  • Leaner adults live longer, healthier lives
  • Calorie restriction works to increase life span
    of animals but human connection is not
    specifically known

22
Health Treatment
  • Quality of health treatment for older adults
    needs improvement
  • Geriatric nurses can be helpful
  • Quality of nursing homes varies and costs are
    escalating
  • Concerns focus on patients medical care, right
    to privacy, access to medical information, safety
    and lifestyle freedom

23
Alternatives to Nursing Home Care
  • Home health care
  • Day-care centers
  • Preventive medicine clinics
  • Alternatives are potentially less expensive and
    less likely to depersonalize the patient
  • Patients perform better cognitively

24
Multidimensionality and Multidirectionality
  • Speed of processing information declines in late
    adulthood
  • Decline in speed is likely due to decline in
    functioning of brain and central nervous system
  • Health and exercise may be influencing factors

25
Cognitive Development
  • Ageism
  • Cognitive decline because of physical or social
    influence?
  • What are common stereotypes of the elderly?
  • Do we see differences across cultures?

26
Attention
  • Selective attention -- focusing on a specific
    aspect of experience that is relevant while
    ignoring others that are irrelevant
  • Divided attention -- concentrating on more than
    one activity at the same time
  • Sustained attention -- state of readiness to
    detect and respond to small changes occurring at
    random times in the environment
  • also known as vigilance

27
Memory
  • Episodic memory -- retention of information about
    the where and when of lifes happenings
  • Semantic memory -- persons knowledge about the
    world
  • fields of expertise general academic knowledge
    everyday knowledge of words, places, and things
  • Both show declines in older adults

28
Memory
  • Working memory -- closely linked to short-term
    memory but emphasizes memory as a place for
    mental work
  • Perceptual speed -- amount of time it takes to
    perform simple perceptual-motor tasks
  • Decline in perceptual speed in older adults is
    linked to decline in working memory

29
Memory
  • Explicit memory -- memory of facts and
    experiences that individuals consciously know and
    can state
  • also known as declarative memory
  • Implicit memory -- memory without conscious
    recollection it involves skills and routine
    procedures that are automatically performed
  • Implicit memory is less likely to be adversely
    affected by aging

30
Wisdom
  • Wisdom -- expert knowledge about the practical
    aspects of life that permits excellent judgment
    about important matters
  • practical knowledge
  • development of coping skills
  • High levels of wisdom are rare
  • Factors other than age are critical for wisdom to
    develop

31
Training Cognitive Skills
  • Training can improve the cognitive skills of many
    older adults
  • There is some loss of plasticity in late
    adulthood, especially in those older than 85
    years
  • Cognitive vitality can be improved with training

32
Cognitive Neuroscience and Aging
  • Cognitive neuroscience -- field of study that
    links brain and cognitive functioning
  • Changes in brain can influence cognitive
    functioning, and changes in cognitive functioning
    can change brain
  • Lack of use of working memory may cause neural
    connections in prefrontal lobes to atrophy

33
Work
  • Older adults increasingly work part-time in
    retirement
  • Probability of employment also was positively
    correlated with educational attainment and being
    married to a working wife
  • Older workers have a lower rate of absenteeism,
    fewer accidents, and increased job satisfaction

34
Adjustment to Retirement
  • Best adjustment for those who are
  • healthy
  • have adequate income
  • active
  • educated
  • have an extended social network
  • satisfied with life before retirement

35
Depression
  • Major depression -- mood disorder in which the
    individual is deeply unhappy, demoralized,
    self-derogatory, and bored
  • Predictors of depression earlier symptoms, poor
    health, death of a spouse, and low social support
  • Insomnia is a risk factor for depression in older
    adults
  • Depression is a treatable condition

36
Dementia
  • Dementia -- global term for any neurological
    disorder in which the primary symptoms involve a
    deterioration of mental functioning
  • Loss of ability to care for themselves and
    recognize familiar surroundings and people

37
Alzheimers Disease
  • Alzheimers Disease -- a progressive,
    irreversible brain disorder characterized by
    gradual deterioration of memory, reasoning,
    language, and eventually physical function
  • Early- (younger than 65) and late-onset (older
    than 65)
  • Formation of amyloid plaques -- deposits of
    protein accumulating in blood vessels
  • Neurofibrillary tangles -- twisted fibers that
    build up in neurons

38
Causes of Alzheimers Disease
  • No certain scientific proof of causes
  • Age is a risk factor
  • Genetic links seem to exist
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Lack of exercise
  • Mild cognitive impairment represents a
    transitional state between the cognitive changes
    of normal aging and very early Alzheimer disease
    and dementias

39
Care for Individuals with Alzheimers Disease
  • Family members and other care providers can
    become physically and emotionally drained
  • Need for respite care -- services that provide
    temporary relief to caregivers

40
Parkinsons Disease
  • Parkinsons disease -- a chronic, progressive
    disease characterized by muscle tremors, slowing
    of movement, and partial facial paralysis
  • Onset is triggered by degeneration of neurons
    that produce dopamine in the brain
  • Dopamine -- neurotransmitter necessary for normal
    brain functioning
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