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Title: Introduction%20to%20Psychology

Adulthood and Old Age
  • Chapter 5
  • Introduction to Psychology

  • This is our culture today.
  • What can we do?

What is Adulthood?
  • the period of time in your life after your
    physical growth has stopped and you are fully
  • the state (and responsibilities) of a person who
    has attained maturity

Erik Eriksons Theory
  • The adolescence and adult stages are as follows
    (the ages for each stage are very approximate)
  • Stage 5. Adolescence (1319 years) avoid role
    confusion and develop a sense of identity social
    focus is on peer groups
  • Stage 6. Early adulthood (2030 years) most
    adults commit themselves to a love relationship
    and to intimacy other adults develop a sense of
    isolation social focus in this stage is on

Eriksons Theory (continued)
  • Stage 7. Middle adulthood (3060 years most
    adults commit themselves to productive and
    socially valuable work (including bringing up
    their own children and being concerned with
    others within society), or they become stagnant
    and self-centered
  • Erikson described these two extremes as
    generativity and stagnation.
  • Generativity refers to the interest in
    establishing and guiding the next generation.
    The social focus is on the household.

Erikson continued
  • Stage 8. Old age (60 years onwards) Adults in
    this stage try to make sense of their lives. If
    they are successful in doing so, they gain
    wisdom if they cannot do this, then they
    experience despair. The social focus is on

Early Adulthood
  • developing the ability to share intimacy, seeking
    to form relationships and find intimate love.
  • Career Choices
  • Marriage/Children
  • Successful marriage how people handle the good
    times and how they handle the bad times
  • Children (married couples) 2.3 as of 2008 (US
    Census Bureau)

  • Roughly 60 of those who marry a first time will
    divorce in the United States.
  • Those who marry a second time are divorcing at a
    75 rate.
  • Divorce is especially likely during the first
    five years of marriage, and other danger
    periods are after 15 and 25 years of marriage.
  • Divorce is the second most stressful life event
    after death of ones spouse.

6 Psychosocial Stages of Divorce
  • It has been argued that those getting divorced
    tend to go through a series of stages during the
    divorce process. For example, Bohannon (1970)
    proposed the following six stages
  • Emotional divorce
  • Legal divorce
  • Economic divorce
  • Co-parental divorce
  • Community divorce
  • Psychic divorce

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Alternative Arrangements?
  • Such alternatives to marriage as living
    together (cohabitation) have become more common.
    In 1997, the Census Bureau estimated that 4.13
    million unwed couples lived in the United States.

Work/career choice
  • socioeconomic status
  • Friends
  • political values
  • residence location
  • child care
  • job stress
  • other aspects of life
  • And while income is important in both career
    selection and career longevity, so are
    achievement, recognition, satisfaction, security,
    and challenge.

  • Adulthood is either a time of fulfilling ones
    dreams or a time to realize that what was dreamed
    cannot be fulfilledthe frustrations of this can
    lead to despair.

Physical Changes- Adulthood
  • One theoryour cells break down and cannot repair
  • Another theoryour cells are biological clocks
    that can only divide and multiply so many times.
  • Peak physical condition 18-30
  • Changes in sight are very noticeable
  • Hearing is not as goodespecially when more than
    two people are talking.

Middle Adulthood
  • Robert Havighurst lists seven major tasks in the
    middle years
  • accepting and adjusting to physiological changes,
    such as menopause
  • reaching and maintaining satisfaction in one's
  • adjusting to and possibly caring for aging
  • helping teenage children to become responsible
  • achieving adult social and civic responsibility
  • relating to one's spouse as a person
  • developing leisure-time activities

Health Problems
  • Staying away from bad stuff keeps up looking
    younger longer.
  • No tobacco, drugs, booze, and a sensible
    well-balanced diet along with a moderate exercise
    regimen are also very good.
  • The three most common causes for deathheart
    disease, cancer, cirrhosis may all be a result of
    the living we do as younger people.
  • Lesser causes are drug abuse, and death due to
    accidentsboth more prevalent in younger ages.

  • Between the ages of 45-50, a woman stops
    ovulating and menstruating so she cannot bear any
    more children.
  • Negativity associated with menopause is merely
    the effect of stereotyping and have no physical
  • Men have no counterpart to menopausemen have
    fathered children well into their 80s (Aaron

  • Reproduction After Menopause -With help of
    technology, women can now conceive and carry a
    baby to term after menopause. (Very Rare)
  • The age of the mother is a controversial issue,
    while the age of the father is not.

Case Study
  • A 66 year old woman by the name of Maria del
    Carmen Bousada from Spain who suddenly decided
    she wanted to have a baby
  • Came to the United States, lied about her age,
    told the doctors that she was 55 and had an
    in-vitro fertilization procedure performed.
  • The procedure was successful and resulted in the
    birth of twins (boys), giving her the record for
    being the oldest woman to give birth.
  • The procedure cost over 59,000 not including the
    cost of preparation, travel, and all other
    medical expenses.
  • She passed away at age 69 of cancer, which may be
    related to the influx of hormones given to her
    when she was trying to conceive.

Sexual Behavior
  • It is thought that sex drive may only diminish if
    one is bored with a partner, is in poor physical
    condition, is extremely ill, or accepts that age
    kills everything.
  • Sexual Functioning
  • Sexual effectiveness need not disappear as humans
  • Healthy men and women often function sexually
    into their 80s.
  • Although time takes its toll, it need not
    eliminate sexual desire nor bar its fulfillment.

Social and Personality Development
  • Levinsons Theory of Male Development
  • Levinsons sample
  • Levinson interviewed 40 men in four occupational
    groups (novelists, biologists, business
    executives, and factory workers) between the ages
    of 35-45.  Five percent were black.  All had been
    married at least once.

  • Move from pre-adulthood to adulthood
  • Graduation from school, move out of family home,
    go to work.
  • Independence from family.  Financial and
    emotional autonomy.
  • College and military are transitional
    institutions away from family but not total
  • Make choices about how adult life will be lived
  • Men have a dream, a vision of the future
    usually viewed in terms of career
  • Men have a mentor, an older (8-15 years) role
    model someone with experience and seniority in
    the world the young adult wishes to enter.
  • Second important relationship a woman who
    supports dream, makes man feel capable of
    obtaining it.

Levinson's Five Stages of Male Development
  • Entering the Adult World
  • The Age-Thirty Crisis
  • Settling Down/ BOOM period
  • The Midlife Transition
  • Middle Adulthood

Female Development
  • The mentor - Women substantially less likely to
    have a mentor
  • Love relationship Men seek women to support
    their dreams.  Women seek a special man but see
    themselves as supporting his dreams.
  • Men dream of occupational achievement, status
    accomplishment. Women less clear dreams more
    tentative mix of family and career interests
  • Women are a bit different at the midlife stage
    especially as many are going back to college or
    going back to work.

The Empty Nest Syndrome
  • When the last child has left home the women may
    suffer from depression especially if her marriage
    is not so good. Otherwise, they may be at their
    happiest with the new-found freedom.

Depression in Midlife
  • Most common in middle aged women menopause can
    lead to depression as mothers now sense that
    their role in the life cycle is over.  

Midlife Crisis
  • While a midlife crisis is not regarded as a
    universal phenomenon, during one's 40s and 50s
    comes the recognition that more than half of
    one's life is gone.
  • That recognition may prompt some to feel that the
    clock is ticking and that they must make sudden,
    drastic changes in order to achieve their goals,
    while others focus on finding satisfaction with
    the present course of their lives.

Life Expectancy
  • Life expectancy of Americans now at least 76
  • Middle of life falls statistically at age 38
  • Middle age typically defined as considerably

Late Adulthood
  • Old age is generally considered to begin at about
    age 65.
  • Erik Erikson suggests that at this time it is
    important to find meaning and satisfaction in
    life rather than to become bitter and
    disillusioned, that is, to resolve the conflict
    of integrity vs. despair.

  • It has been estimated that by the year 2030,
    Americans over 65 will make up 20 of the
  • Despite the problems associated with longevity,
    studies of people in their 70s have shown that
    growing old is not necessarily synonymous with
    substantial mental or physical deterioration.
    Many older people are happy and engaged in a
    variety of activities.

  • an interdisciplinary field that studies the
    process of aging and the aging population,
    involves psychology, biology, sociology, and
    other fields

What are the improvements needed in the area of
  • Experts researchers need to communicate
    collaborate across disciplines, as well as use a
    uniform common language to enhance communication.
  • Nurses need to analyze reduce the complexity of
    these theories and place emphasis on the quality
    of life of older adults.
  • Society must develop a positive view of older
    adults their potential within society.
  • Nurses must see older adults as unique
    individuals with valuable life experiences
    recollections that should be utilized.
  • Also recognize the losses experienced i.e.
    physical social.
  • Society must change or eliminate stereotypes
    about older adults.

  •  What is a common fear in our society?
  • The fear of dying is very prevalent.
  • Societys View of Aging
  • We treat aging negatively in jokes, in
    advertisements to replace old products with newer
    ones, in retiring older workers and replacing
    them with younger ones, and by using the
    euphemisms for the word old.

Development in Late Adulthood
  • Theories of successful aging.
  • Disengagement theory
  • Activity theory

Disengagement theory
  • Refers to an inevitable process in which many of
    the relationships between a person and other
    members of society are severed those remaining
    are altered in quality.
  • Withdrawal may be initiated by the aging person
    or by society, and may be partial or total.
  • It was observed that older people are less
    involved with life than they were as younger
  • As people age they experience greater distance
    from society they develop new types of
    relationships with society.
  • In America, there is evidence that society forces
    withdrawal on older people whether or not they
    want it.
  • This theory is recognized as the 1st formal
    theory that attempted to explain the process of
    growing older.

Activity theory
  • Is another theory that describes the psychosocial
    aging process.
  • Activity theory emphasizes the importance of
    ongoing social activity.
  • This theory suggests that a person's self-concept
    is related to the roles held by that person i.e.
    retiring may not be so harmful if the person
    actively maintains other roles, such as familial
    roles, recreational roles, volunteer community
  • To maintain a positive sense of self the person
    must substitute new roles for those that are lost
    because of age. And studies show that the type of
    activity does matter, just as it does with
    younger people.

  • Ageism may be defined as the prejudice or
    discrimination that occurs on the basis of age.
  • Although it can be used against people of all
    ages, older people are most frequently its target
    and it may often result in forced retirement.
  • Stereotyping of the elderly is also an aspect of
    ageism, as seen in such a statement as He drives
    like a little old lady.

Physical Changes
  • atrophy of the brain and a decrease in the rate
    of neural processes
  • Respiratory and circulatory
  • Bone mass /osteoporosis.
  • Muscles
  • Skin
  • Hair loss
  • decreased sensitivity in all of the sensory
    modalities, including olfaction, taste, touch,
    hearing, and vision

Cognitive Changes
  • Cognitive changes. The study of cognitive changes
    in the older population is complex.
  • John Horn proposed two types of intelligence
    fluid and crystallized.

  • Intellectual changes in late adulthood do not
    always result in reduction of ability.
  • While fluid intelligence (the ability to see and
    to use patterns and relationships to solve
    problems) does decline in later years,
    crystallized intelligence (the ability to use
    accumulated information to solve problems and
    make decisions) has been shown to rise slightly
    over the entire life span.

  • Dementias are usually responsible for cognitive
    defects seen in older people. These disorders,
    however, occur only in about 15 of people over
  • The leading cause of dementia in the United
    States is Alzheimer's disease, a progressive,
    eventually fatal disease that begins with
    confusion and memory lapses and ends with the
    loss of ability to care for oneself.
  • http//

  • Retirement. Retirement at age 65 is the
    conventional choice for many people, although
    some work until much later.
  • Widowhood. Women tend to marry men older than
    they are and, on average, live 5 to 7 years
    longer than men. One study found ten times as
    many widows as widowers. Widowhood is
    particularly stressful if the death of the spouse
    occurs early in life close support of friends,
    particularly other widows, can be very helpful.

Psychology- Video on Demand
  • http//

Thanatology The Study of Death and Dying
  • During the past thirty years social patterns that
    call for the "hiding of death" have in large
    measure been reversed and the field of
    thanatologythe study of deathhas grown.

Right to Die Movement
  • The death awareness movement asserts that a basic
    human right is the power to control one's own
    dying process.
  • Much criticism is currently leveled at the way
    modern technology is applied to the terminally
  • According to this view, too much is done for too
    long a period at too high a cost, all at the
    expense of basic human considerations and
  • Probably the most controversial position of the
    right-to-die movement concerns the issue of

Controversial Issues
  • Terri Schiavo case- http//
  • Dr. Jack Kevorkian- http//

The Hospice Movement
  • The hospice approach entails a variety of
    programs that are designed to afford an
    alternative to conventional hospital care for the
    terminally ill, especially cancer patients.
  • The emphasis of the movement falls on
  • Most hospice programs are centered around care of
    the dying person at home.

The Dying Process
  • Defining Death
  • A growing acceptance in medical and legal circles
    of the need for an additional criterion of death
    has resulted in a legal definition that includes
    the absence of spontaneous brain function.

Confronting One's Own Death
  • A realistic acceptance of death may well be the
    hallmark of emotional maturity.
  • People differ considerably, however, in the
    degree to which they are consciously aware of and
    think about death.
  • Death is a highly personal matter, and its
    meaning tends to vary from individual to
  • Some psychologists have suggested that the
    elderly tend to take stock of their lives, to
    reflect and to reminisce about it in a life
    review process.
  • Researchers agree that only a relatively small
    proportion of the elderly express a fear of

Near-Death Experiences
  • Clinically dead but left their bodies and
    undergone otherworldly experiences?
  • Scientific evidence of a spiritual existence
    beyond death?
  • Skeptics rejoin that the visions reported by
    dying people are hallucinations associated with
    the intense arousal of the central nervous system
    and the disorganization of normal brain

  • Dying
  • Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identifies five stages
    through which dying persons typically pass
    Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and

Stages a Dying Person Experiences
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Causes of Death
  • Most deaths occur in a hospital, clinic, or
    medical center.
  • A large number of deaths are attributed to
    hypertension and the resulting cardiovascular
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death.
  • HIV rates are higher in states on the east coast
    and west coast and in nearly every urban area of
    the United States.

Grief, Bereavement, and Mourning
  • Adjusting to the Death of a Loved One
  • Bereavement- mourning period (cultural)
  • Grief- response to loss
  • Mourning- process/time people adapt (cultural)

  • Widows and Widowers
  • Women 65 and over are much more likely to be
    widowed than married.
  • The difficulty women have in adjusting to
    widowhood tends to vary with the degree to which
    their social relationships revolved around or
    were integrated with those of their husbands.

The Death of a Child
  • The loss of a child is frequently associated with
    depression, anger, guilt and despair.
  • Recovery can take a very long time.
  • Guilt can be especially intense after a death
    from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Parents who have lost a child by miscarriage
    often receive no recognition of their loss from
    others, yet their grief work might continue for a

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the
    unexpected, sudden death of a child under age 1
    in which an autopsy does not show an explainable
    cause of death.
  • Symptoms
  • There are no symptoms. Babies who die of SIDS do
    not appear to suffer or struggle.

  • The cause of SIDS is unknown, although there are
    several theories. Many doctors and researchers
    now believe that SIDS is not a single condition
    that is always caused by the same medical
    problems, but infant death caused by several
    different factors.
  • These factors may include problems with sleep
    arousal or an inability to sense a build-up of
    carbon dioxide in the blood. Almost all SIDS
    deaths occur without any warning or symptoms when
    the infant is thought to be sleeping.
  • SIDS is most likely to occur between 2 and 4
    months of age, and 90 occur by 6 months of age.
    It occurs more often in winter months, with the
    peak in January. There is also a greater rate of
    SIDS among Native and African Americans.

  • The following factors increase the risk of SIDS
  • Babies who sleep on their stomachs
  • Babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents
  • Babies who have soft bedding in the crib
  • Multiple birth babies
  • Premature babies
  • Babies with a sibling who had SIDS
  • Mothers who smoke or use illegal drugs
  • Teen mothers
  • Short time period between pregnancies
  • Late or no prenatal care
  • Situations of poverty
  • SIDS affects boys more often than girls. While
    studies show that babies with the above risk
    factors are more likely to be affected, the
    impact or importance of each factor is not
    well-defined or understood.

Human Diversity Cross-Cultural Perspectives on
  • In some societies, one is required to deal with
    death during one's entire lifetime.
  • For all cultures, death is a transition from one
    stage to another.
  • Provides examples of different cultures and how
    they handle death in different ways
  • In India, death is not considered a taboo
    subject, while Muslims tend not to discuss it
  • Some cultures look at death as the end of life.
  • Some cultures look at death as the beginning of a
    new life.

Works Consulted and Cited
  • Development in Early Middle Adulthood. 29 Nov
  • Kasschau, Richard A. (2003). Understanding
    Psychology. New York Glencoe McGraw-Hill.
  • Psychology Press. Adolescence, Adulthood, and Old
    Age. 29 Nov 2009. lt http//