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Adulthood Powered By Docstoc
 The  adult years are generally
  divided into three broad stages
  – young adulthood, middle
  adulthood, and late adulthood.
 Many theorists believe that adult
  development, like childhood and
  adolescence, follows certain
  stages. Others believe there are
  no stages.
 Young   adulthood covers a span
  of approximately 20 years (from
  about 20 – 40 years old).
 It is characterized by a desire to
  try new ways of doing things
  and by changing relationships
  with parents.
 Many young adults are at the
  height of their physical and
  cognitive abilities.
 In their 20’s many young adults
  think they have chosen the
  course in life that is exactly right
  for them, but as they reach their
  30’s they may reconsider.
 This is a time where careers
  may be changed, single people
  may find a mate, families may
  be started.
 Women are particularly
  vulnerable to this stage.
 Afterthe upheaval of the
 early 30’s, the middle to late
 30’s are often characterized
 by settling down, increasing
 their financial and emotional
Developmental Tasks of Young Adulthood
    Exploring adult roles
    Becoming independent
    Developing intimate
    Adjusting to living with another
    Starting a family and becoming
 a parent
    Assuming the responsibilities of
 managing a home
    Beginning a career or a job
    Assuming some responsibilities
 in the larger community
    Creating a social network of
 friends and coworkers
 Most people in the U.S. marry.
 The median age of first
  marriages for men is 27 and for
  women is 25.
 About one in every four people
  over the age of 18 has never
  been married.
 The state with the lowest
  divorce rate is Massachusetts
  and the highest is Nevada.
 Marital roles in modern society
  are changing. Patriarchy (male
  dominated) is no longer the
  dominant system.
 Many couples share roles, or the
  traditional roles are reversed.
  Many single parents are fully
  responsible for fulfilling both
  roles in their families.
 In the US, most marry for love, but
  this did not become widespread until
  the 1800’s. Prior to this, marriages
  were arranged by the parents of the
  bride and groom on the basis of how
  it would benefit the two families.
 In some areas of the world, this
  practice still exists, but in western
  societies, companionship and
  intimacy are central goals in most
 Generally,  people marry others
  who are similar to themselves in
  geographical area, age, race,
  religion, physical attractiveness,
  personality, and intelligence.
 Divorce rates rose steadily
  throughout much of the 20th
  century before leveling off in the
  80’s. More people are living
  together and waiting to get
 Obtaining  a divorce has become
  easier in many states. The
  increased economic
  independence of women also
  may have contributed to the rise
  in divorce. High expectations
  may be another cause.
 Many couples expect marriage
  to be constantly gratifying and
  to be easy, but relationships
  require work and commitment.
   Other causes of divorce may be abuse,
    infidelity, strains brought about by illness
    or financial hardship, or an inability to
    communicate effectively.
   Divorce is costly. When household
    resources are divided, it is difficult to
    maintain the same standard of living.
   Women, who are generally granted
    custody of the children, often find
    themselves solely responsible for the
    rearing of the children. Divorce can lead
    to feelings of failure, loneliness, and
 In some, divorce can lead to
  personal growth and renewal. Most
  divorced people remarry, but those
  new marriages are even more likely
  to fail than the first.
 Divorce can be difficult for children,
  no matter what their age.
 Nearly half will experience problems
  such as anxiety, poor grades, low
  self-esteem, and anger, boys usually
  having more problems than girls.
  Many children blame themselves for
  their parents’ divorce.
 While  some children may seem
 to adjust well to the divorce, the
 reality may not be evident until
 early adulthood, when they may
 find it difficult to trust the
 commitment of a potential
 partner and thus may be
 reluctant to become deeply
 involved with other people. This
 is known as the Sleeper Effect.
 Middle  adulthood lasts from the
  age of 40 to 65. There is a
  decline in physical ability, but it
  is so gradual that it is hardly
 People who work at their
  conditioning can maintain
  excellent health and strength
  throughout middle adulthood.
 Developmental   Tasks of Middle
    Helping one’s children make
 the transition from home life to
 the outside world
    Strengthening one’s
 relationship with one’s spouse
    Helping make the world a
 better place by assuming
 leadership roles in social and
 civic activities
  Achieving mastery in one’s
     Adjusting to the physical
  changes that occur in middle
     Making decisions about how
  to spend one’s “second
     Pursuing one’s passions
 Coping with one’s aging parents
 Erikson believed that the greatest
  challenge for middle-aged adults is
  generativity. Adults can be creative
  in various areas of their lives such
  as their career, family, and
 Some cultures welcome the outward
  signs of getting older, but this is not
  true in the US. Cheating the aging
  process is a billion-dollar business
  that keeps growing.
 Some psychologists have noted that
  many people experience a midlife
  transition around the ages of 40-45
  (men) or mid 30’s (women).
 It may spring from a realization that
  they have lived about half of their
  life. Birthdays up until now may
  have only signaled how many years
  you had achieved, but future
  birthdays represent how many years
  you have left.
 Some critical events that may bring
  on this mid-life transition are
 the death of a parent
 sending your youngest child off to
 an illness,
 a change at work
 not being able to do what you used
  to physically
 For some adults, this may trigger a
  sense of urgency – a last chance to
  do certain things.
 Middlescence  is a term
  sometimes used to describe
  a period of searching that in
  some ways resembles
 It involves searching for a
  new identity, or a second
 The Empty-Nest Syndrome used to
  be a real problem for mothers who
  had never worked outside the home
  and devoted most of their life to
  bringing up children.
 Contemporary research suggests
  that many women develop a
  renewed sense of themselves and
  they may have greater peace of
  mind, self-confidence, and personal
  stability due to more energy and
  time to spend outside of the home.
 A very noticeable sign of aging in
  women is menopause, when the
  menstrual cycle ends, usually
  between the ages of 45 and 55.
 It is caused by a decrease in the
  secretion of the hormones estrogen
  and progesterone.
 After menopause, a woman no
  longer produces eggs that can be
  fertilized. The hormonal change can
  produce hot flashes, fatigue, and
  mood swings.
 There is no male reproductive
  event equal to menopause.
 Men’s testosterone levels drop,
  but not at the sharp rate of
  estrogen decrease in women.
 Sperm counts decline, but men
  do not lose their fertility.
 Age  65 marks the beginning of
  late adulthood. People are living
  to be older than ever before.
 In 1900, only one American in
  30 was over the age of 65.
  While some see this stage as the
  beginning of the end, it actually
  can provide many opportunities
  for self-fulfillment.
 Our sight, smell, and hearing usually
  begin a steep decline once we hit
  age 65. Muscle strength and
  stamina also diminish, and it takes
  longer to heal after injury.
 Wrinkles and skin folds occur as the
  skin becomes less elastic. Bones
  become more brittle, they fracture
  more easily.
 Immune systems also become less
  effective as a barrier against
 Aging  also slows down travel on
  our neural pathways, requiring
  more time to react, remember
  names, etc.
 Portions of the brain start to
  atrophy, or waste away,
  particularly in the memory
  region. (If you live to be 80,
  your brain will weigh 5% less
  than it does now.)
 You can compensate for these losses
  by remaining physically and
  mentally active. Exercise appears to
  foster brain cell development while
  helping prevent heart disease and
 Many older people may prefer
  walking and swimming to more
  weight-bearing exercises such as
  running and bicycling that cause
  more stress on bones and joints.
 Why   do some people age faster
  than others? Aging theories fall
  into two categories –
  programmed theories and
  cellular damage theories.
 Programmed theories of aging
  view people as having biological
  clocks that move forward at a
  predetermined pace. It
  suggests that genetics plays a
  significant role in the length of
  one’s life.
   Cells in our bodies divide and repair
    themselves only a specific number of
    times. After that they become inactive
    and eventually die.
    As they age, cells also become less able
    to repair themselves and become
    vulnerable to diseases like cancer.
   Hormonal changes may also leave the
    body vulnerable to diabetes,
    osteoporosis, and heart disease. The
    immune system is also influenced by
 Cellular damage theories suggest
  that cells malfunction as a result of
  damage which may come from
  internal body changes or from
  external causes, such as trauma or
 Cells are affected by poisons and
  cancer-causing agents in the
  environment for long periods of
  time. They become less able to
  repair themselves and thus, more
  vulnerable to disease.
 Free radicals (unstable molecules)
  are produced naturally by digestion,
  but also by exposure to
  environmental agents like ultraviolet
  light, air pollution, pesticides, or
  even extreme heat.
 This causes damage to cells by
  accumulating in the body.
 Cross-linking may also be a cause of
  aging because proteins within a cell
  bind together and toughen body
  tissues, which eventually leads to
  the breakdown of various bodily
 The  great majority of older
  people do not have serious
  decline in intellectual skills.
  Knowledge and vocabulary
  continue to grow throughout a
  person’s lifetime.
 Unfortunately, some older
  people do have cognitive
  problems, such as senile
  dementia and Alzheimer’s
 People  with dementia show
  major losses in memory and can
  also have speech problems or be
  unable to perform simple tasks.
 They may also have difficulty
  concentrating or making plans.
  Dementia after the age of 65 is
  called senile dementia. Most
  cases occur over the age of 80.
 It is not a normal part of the
  aging process and there are
  about 70 known causes,
  including alcoholism, tumor,
  strokes, or anything else that
  results in a substantial loss
  of brain cells.
 The longer you live, the
  more chance you have of
  developing it.
 The most common cause of
  dementia is Alzheimer’s disease,
  which affects about 10% of the
  population over 65.
 It is characterized by progressive
  and irreversible destruction of
  brain cells in the hippocampus,
  resulting in a gradual deterioration
  of memory, reasoning, language,
  and ultimately, physical
 Heredity seems to play a role in
  developing Alzheimer’s, as do viral
  infections and aluminum poisoning.
  Certain drugs slow down the
  disease, but there is no know cure.
 Vascular dementia can be caused by
  the bursting of a blood vessel in the
  brain (a stroke) or by a decrease in
  the blood supply to the brain.
  Various infections can also cause
 Many  social changes also come
  with aging. Retirement,
  grandchildren, and living
  arrangements create new
  experiences for older people.
 Retirement is something that
  many people look forward to,
  while others dread it.
  Sometimes retirement is
  voluntary, other times it is
  enforced by age 65 or 70.
   In the early part of retirement, people
    often undergo a “honeymoon” phase
    where they feel very positive and do
    many of the things they’d dreamed of.
   After a while, disillusionment sets in
    when their schedules slow down and
    they discover that the things they’ve
    looked forward to aren’t quite as
    stimulating as they thought they would
   Retirement also puts stress on a
    marriage because suddenly you are
    spending all of your time with your
 Eventually, a lot of retirees join
  volunteer groups and participate
  more in community activities.
  Sometimes, they begin entirely
  new careers. For all, a new
  routine and stability eventually
  set in.
 Grandparents often have more
  relaxed relationships with their
  grandchildren than they had
  with their children.
 They  may have become more
  tolerant and understanding over
  the years, plus they do not
  usually have to shoulder the
  major responsibility for the
 Grandparents can also be
  sources of wisdom and love fore
  the children, as well as
  caretakers if needed. Many
  cultures have multigenerational
 Most older people are independent
  and remain in their homes for as
  long as possible. About 30% of
  older people will spend some time in
  a nursing home, but not usually until
  after the age of 80.
 Many studies show that older people
  are every bit as happy and satisfied
  with life as younger people are. In
  fact, someone in their 20’s might
  feel more worthless, sad, or nervous
  than someone in their 70’s.
 Erikson believed that people in late
  adulthood need to maintain ego
  integrity, or the belief that life is
  meaningful and worthwhile even
  when physical abilities are not what
  they used to be. Time is limited and
  nothing lasts forever.
 We all must face death at some
  point in our lives. In the U.S.,
  attitudes are tending more toward
  the inevitability of death and facing
  it with dignity.
 Some cultures encourage handling
  grief with a stiff upper lip, while still
  others show enormous amounts of
  grief from both men and women.
 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a
  psychiatrist, worked with people
  who had terminal illnesses in 1969.
 She theorized that there are five
  stages through which many dying
  people, and even elderly people
  without terminal illnesses, pass.
     Denial – This can’t be true.
 Maybe the doctors are wrong.
     Anger – Why me? This is so
     Bargaining – I’ll do anything if I
 can just live long enough to do this…
     Depression – Why live even one
 more day?
     Acceptance – I’ve had a good
 life and I’m ready to go now.
 Kubler-Ross’s theory was not
  without it’s critics. Other
  psychologists were quick to point
  out that many people show a
  variety of reactions to death and
  may not follow the sequence she
  laid out.
 Another problem with her theory
  is that it may tempt people to
  ignore the uniqueness of each
  individual’s experiences at the end
  of life.
 Some dying people choose to go to
  a hospice care for the remainder of
  their illness. It can be given at
  home, or in a hospice facility, where
  visiting hours are not restricted.
 Dying people are allowed more
  control over their lives (diet,
  activities, medication), providing for
  more physical and emotional
  support. Relatives can remain in
  contact with the hospice staff to deal
  with their own feelings of grief.
 Euthanasia, illegal in most states, is
  another controversial issue
  regarding dying.
 Mercy killing may be considered
  when people are convinced that
  there are absolutely no other
 Opponents maintain that no one has
  the right to take the life of someone
  else, no matter what the
 They also point out that new
  medications and therapies are
  continually being developed and
  that a person who feels
  despondent today, may feel
  differently tomorrow.
 A legal document called a living
  will is used by many people today
  to avoid being kept alive by
  artificial support, such as a
 It is intended to spare relatives from
  having to make a painful decision,
  and once that person has died, they
  can grieve and then move on with
  their lives.
 Funerals traditionally reflect
  religious beliefs and cultural
  customs. While they are a way of
  saying goodbye and celebrating the
  life of the deceased, they also
  provide a physical and symbolic
  removal of the dead person from the
   Bereavement involves sadness,
    loneliness, numbness, anger, and even
    relief, especially if the dying person
    suffered greatly.
   Some bereaved people may join a
    support group or seek professional help in
    dealing with their grief. Usually, they are
    able to resume normal functioning, even
    though they will always miss the
    deceased person.
   Sometimes the survivors grow in
    compassion because of their loss and gain
    a deeper appreciation of the value of life.

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