Middle Adulthood - Major Changes in Late Adulthood – Essay Example

Middle Adulthood


Middle adulthood is the age between the young adulthood and the old age. There have been several attempts to define this life stages since it occupies more than three quarter of the lifespan of an individual. Middle adulthood has been described to occupy the age between 45 and 60 years (Dacey and Travers, 2005). However, there has not been a consensus on the exact age that is occupied by this period. For example the United States census defines the middle adulthood as the period between 35 to 54 years, Erickson, how is a renown theorist defined it as period between 40 and 65 years while Brian Boyle, who is also a theorist defines it as a period between 35 and 60 years. Despite the difference in the age definition, middle adulthood is recognized as the period between young adulthood and the onset of old age.

In order to understand the changes that occur in this period of life, we are going to interview [1]Mrs. Doyle who is a teacher. We will relate her experience and perception about middle adulthood in order to understand this life stage well.

Middle adulthood according to Mrs. Doyle

Other than her adolescent, the middle adulthood has been one of the most interesting and perplexing life stage in Mrs. Doyle life. It has been one of the most satisfying periods of her life, yet it has been filled with different crisis and challenges. She has achieved a lot at this stage but she feels that some of the things she dreamt of achieving in life seem unachievable and therefore success has been obstructed by frustrations. However, Mrs. Doyle rests her case by looking at her successes rather than her failure, being quite optimistic amidst the life crisis.

At 43, Mrs. Doyle feels she is at the height of her life. She confides that this is the most interesting stages in her life. There are many factors that makes this stage the most interesting in her entire life but most important has been the joy she draws to see her children climb the ladders of success in life (Dacey and Travers, 2005). Like any other mother, Mrs. Doyle draws her satisfaction and interest in life from her two children who have been everything to her. Apart from the children, Mrs. Doyle is also happy with the achievement in her career as she is a respected teacher and heads the local teachers association. “My children are all I have, my career keeps me busy, and people around me makes me complete” are the word that Mrs. Doyle use to express her satisfaction in life.

However, her satisfaction in life is sometimes obstructed by different challenges that she faces in life (Dacey and Travers, 2005). One of the greatest challenges has been providing for her family as a single parent. According to Mrs. Doyle, her family needs have far exceeded her income and she has to borrow loans to keep her children in higher learning institution. “Like any other single mother, I have a great challenge providing for my children. They want to do medicine, I cannot afford. Sometimes I feel frustrated” laments Mrs. Doyle. Mrs. Doyle had been married to Mr. Doyle for 13 years before his life ended in a tragic road accident. She had to inherit the burden of bringing up the children alone from her meager income but she has always strived to provide the best for them. She is also facing another challenge from coping with the changes in her life.

From her own words, Mrs. Doyle has had different accomplishment in life. Her greatest achievement has been bringing up her children and providing the best education she could. When her husband died, the family had nothing since her husband worked in a local mine while Mrs. Doyle was still at school. She has been able to pay mortgage for the family house. She has taken her children to higher institutions of learning and both will be graduating in one year time. “There is nothing I would have dreamt of in this stage of life, rather than what I have achieved for my family,” she concludes on her life achievement. To sum up her feelings about this stage of her life, Mrs. Doyle says “it’s the peak of my life, may be I have lived for what I will live later in life”.

Mrs. Doyle feels that there are different things that are happening in her physical, cognitive and psychological life. In her physical changes, Mr. Doyle confides that after years of hard work, she is feeling gradual changes in her body. She has gained two pounds in the last two years and her weight is set to increase despite her dieting patterns (Dacey and Travers, 2005). She also feels that her body strength is decreasing and she has to ask for help to move her dinning table. Recently she visited a cardiologist and her cardiac output has decreased by half. Her vision is decreasing while sensitivity is increasing. In her cognitive development, Mrs. Doyle says that she apply post formal thinking in making executive decisions.

She is at the responsible stage in her cognition and makes a lot of consideration of future impact of her decision. However, she also feels that there is more cognitive decline in her life and her children are sometimes complaining of her less abstract reasoning. “Sometimes we quarrel with my children over this and that, only to realize later that my decision was not right” she says. There have been several psychosocial changes in her life as well. She feels that she is in a form of mid-life crisis as she is becoming aware of her mortality, the fast passing years and physical health decline. Although psychologically she is feel satisfied with her life, there is a lot of anticipation and identity development. Although she maintains cordial relationship with her children, she is lonely at home and mostly finds solace interacting with neighbors (Dacey and Travers, 2005). As a leader of local teachers association, she is in close contact with different individuals in the society. With her husband having died early, she has not been sexually active compare to other women of her age. However, she feels that menopause is beckoning and her sexual drive is decreasing. She confides that her menstrual period has already ceased. However she confides that she still feels lonely and longs for a companion.

At this stage, the most influential thing in Mrs. Doyle life is her children. Her children have influenced her to maintain a positive approach to life and they are the most important thing that she has lived for. However, she also says that she draw inspiration from her friends as well. “My workmates inspires a lot, especially my fellow women, we move together to accomplish more in life” she says. Apart from this stage in life, Mrs. Doyle looks forward to her later years in life when she would live with her grand children. She looks forward to the day when she would retire to a quite life at home and she wants to spend that time with her grand children. Concluding her interview, Mrs. Doyle argues that her most important contribution to the society has been imparting knowledge to the young ones. As a teacher, she is concerned about the generation that will inherit this world and she has been doing her best to make it a better generation than this one.

In my view, I feel that Mrs. Doyle life can be related to the theories of personality that we learnt in class. According to Eriksson stage of development, Mrs. Doyle fits in stage 7 of middle adulthood and she meets all the characteristics described by Erickson marking this stage (Davis and Clifton, 1995).


Middle adulthood is one of the most important stages in individual life. It has been described as a stage when individuals assess their overall achievement and also as one of the life stages filled with different conflict. From the interview, it is clear that Mrs. Doyle describes her life as a mixture of success and conflicts. Although she is happy and satisfied with her achievement in life, she is obstructed by mid-life crisis. Her life is can be explained in context of development theories.


Dacey, J. S., & Travers, J. F. (2005). Human Development across the lifespan. McGraw-Hill Publishers

Davis, D. & Clifton, A. (1995). Psychosocial Theory: Erikson. Haverford Publishers

[1] Not her real name

Mid Life Adulthood

IntroductionErickson describes the development of an individual to be divided into eight stages and posits that in the midlife adulthood the events are based on generativity and stagnation. At this stage individuals are faced with conflicting demands and as such must make the right choices for better outcomes. In this case study the events and experiences as narrated from Ben’s midlife crisis are related to the development in the middle life adulthood.Parent.With his first kid and having gotten into a marriage relationship Ben felt loved and felt appreciated but became anxious. Indeed Eric (1963) observes that at this mid life adulthood stage individuals practice on generativity by raising children. However, he also observes that generativity can be also be pursued by engaging in activities which contribute into the future generation such as writing and social activism. The couples who engage in marriage view it positively and ensure emotional satisfaction.Career changeBen being a plumber had the feeling of being unsatisfied with the career and felt the job was not enough in assuring his family of financial security and as such engaged in other part time jobs. As a plumber he recognized the limitation the career offered and found it hard to do continue and opted out of the job for other lucrative and ‘meaningful’ ventures. This was done due to the high expectation his family bestowed onto him and to secure a future for his children which the lowly paying job of being a plumber could not do. Indeed, Ben was also engulfed with a strong fear of failure. He started running some business which was not proving to be working well and culminated into divorce.He started frequently going to church and he became more aware of his spiritual development. In a longitudinal study that was carried out, it was found out that individuals were more spiritual in midlife crisis especially to revive hope and help coping with stress. It is also worth noting that people who are happy are coincidentally found to have strong religious associationMarital change.At first the marriage was satisfactory and offered mutual emotional interest. However, Ben and his wife became divorced which brought depression and social withdrawal. Ben resulted to eating junk food which later culminated to obesity. This indeed brought along some heath problems like blood pressure. Indeed, at this stage depression also brought sleeping problems sleepless and wakeful nights. In addition, Ben started engaging in alcohol and extramarital affairs for satisfaction and for medication.It then became apparent to Ben that he required self motivation to realize his purpose in life and he started taking some leisure exercises. As a matter of fact, motivation through exercise increases blood flow, enhances testerone production with other hormones also being produced helping the victim feel better. More over, he started taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and taking organic foods which have been found to produce a motivating feeling.Job lossWent back to do plumbing but was then sacked to alcoholism problem. This resulted to a mild depression and financial stress. Uncontrollability and anxiety then followed suit and Ben got more involved in excessive drinking. However, Ben later reunited with his family. This salvaged the lost relationship with the family, friends and the children. In addition, Ben reestablished his spiritual development and started going to church.Empty nest syndrome Due to the lost time and with the children now mature and each following on his or her socials clock Ben started feeling emotionally at loss with the children absent for a long period of time. In addition Ben would live to regret as he had inadequately executed his parenting role. However, Eric (1963) observes that the parents, who happen to live with their adult children at this stage, feel satisfied and happy in providing for their children.GrandparentThe future is an important aspect in the mid life adulthood. Satisfaction is derived by having an assurance of having an intergenerational survival and relationships. As such Ben feels satisfied that some of his children have been engaged in relationships which brought along some grandchildren.Physical changesBen experienced declined eyesight and loss of memory. There was general lack of perception and numerical inability which could better be described as decline in level of fluid intelligence.Mid life adulthoodAccording to Stage seven in Erikson’s Developmental Stage Theory, the individuals are faced with a daunting responsibility of striking the right balance between generativity and stagnation (Erikson’s 1963). The aspect of generativity encompasses the future aspirations and concern for the coming generation. Stagnation entails being less concerned about the welfare of the others and indulging in activities such as relaxation. As such, the individuals should practice some stagnation and should not extend themselves. Eric continues to illustrate four types of generativity which are biological, parental, work, and cultural (Erikson, 1963). On the other hand, Levinson observes that the changes in middle age is based on four conflicts which are young or old, destructive or constructive, masculine or constructive, and being attached or being withdrawn from others (Baruch, 1984). Levinson believes that the life of an individual in midlife is sandwiched between the past and the future and any endeavor in adapting to this gap leads to disruption of life and he refers to it as a crisis (Baruch, 1984) However, it suffices that the events and the expectations of the midlife adulthood have grossly been over-exaggerated. Even though these theories view it as a crisis, people have different individual variations and different experiences of mid life adulthood. How an individual behaves under stress varies differently with an individual. Indeed, the contemporary life events approach dictates that the development of an individual does not solely depend on the event in midlife stage but also relies on the how the victim copes with the event, some mediating factors such as the support from the relatives, the social-historical factor and the life stage (Arlene, 2002). It can be observed that if Ben in our instance had gotten immediate intervention from the family things would not have resulted into excessive drinking behavior. It can also be argued that these theories have tendency of concentrating on change in disregard to stability. In addition, these theories can hinder more understanding of midlife as they put more emphasis on studying the man’s behavior in disregard for the woman. Indeed, with women roles being varied, it then becomes hard to define a specific sequence of development. As a matter of fact, Neugarten (1968) views mid life adulthood as the period of optimum production and responsibility. On the other hand, Lachman and Bertand (2001) identified personality as the predisposing factor in the midlife adulthood, with the individuals who are neurotic being more predisposed to a midlife crisis.

ReferencesArlene F. (2002) The Developmental Stages of Erik Erikson. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from, http://www.learningplaceonline.com /stages/organize/Erikson.htmBaruch, G. (1984). Women in Midlife. New York: PlenumErikson, E. (1963). Childhood and Society. New York: NortonLachman, M. & Bertrand, E (2001). Handbook of Midlife Development. New York: WileyNeugarten, B. (1968). Middle Age and Aging: A Reader in Social Psychology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Major Changes in Late Adulthood

IntroductionLate adulthood is seen as the last period in individual cycle of life. It begins from the age of 65 till death. Late adulthood is one of the most challenging periods in life as individuals tends to lose most of the physical, cognitive and social development that have been gained throughout life. Few individuals make it through late adulthood without the support of other and like childhood, late adulthood has also been described as a dependency period. In Erickson stages of life, late adulthood is a period of resolving conflict between integrity vs. despair. The three main theories describing the aging process include disengagement theory and activity theory. There are different physical, cognitive, and social changes that take place in the individual signing the offset of late adulthood. This paper will explore in details the different physical, cognitive and social changes and the major process that contribute to aging process in late adulthood.Late adulthood periodLate adulthood is also known as old age. This is the last stage in individual life that begins at age 65 (Cliff Notes, 2009). According to Erik Erickson, this is a period when individuals should find meaning and satisfaction in life instead of becoming bitter and disillusioned. This means that late adulthood periods is marked by bitterness and disillusion when individuals find that they cannot accomplish what they used to accomplish in their early stages in life. Erickson asserts that during this period, individuals should be more concerned with resolving the conflict of integrity vs. despair which is major cause of bitterness and disillusion in old people. It has been estimated that by 2030, America will have more than 20% of its population made up of old individuals over the age of 65 (Cliff Notes, 2009). Many people have a misconception that aging process comes with substantial loss in mental and physical health. However, different studies have found out that this is not always the case as some individuals in late adulthood have shown greater mental and physical health same as individuals in their middle life (Broderick and Blewitt, 2003). Many old people live a happy life and are engaged in various activities especially in community service work.There are three main theories describing the process of aging. These include disengagement theory and activity theory. According to disengagement theory, people withdraw from the mainstream society as they get old. This is assumed to be a normal process that is desirable as it relieves aging individuals from the responsibilities and the roles that continuously become difficult for them to accomplish (Cliff Notes, 2009). The disengagement theory has also been shown to open up more opportunities for young people and therefore the society is more likely to benefit as young people takes up their respective roles.On the other hand, activity theory asserts that activity is important in order to maintain quality life. This theory contends that at one time in life individual lose the vigor to carry out activities and hence those who remain active in physical, mental and social aspects are more likely to have a smooth transition process to aging than those who remain inactive (Cliff Notes, 2009). This theory therefore asserts that the activities which were carried out in the previous years should be maintained by individuals even after entering late adulthood period.Major changes in late adulthoodAt any stage in life, there are many changes that occur in the individual. The same process happens in late adulthood where there are different characteristic changes in physical, cognitive, and social life of the individuals. The following are the main changes that occur in physical, cognitive and social life of the aging individuals.

Physical changes

In the normal human cycle of growth, individuals reach their greatest physical wellbeing in their twenties and then from there, the physical well being deteriorates gradually. By the time individuals reach their late adulthood, there are different physiological changes that occur (Cliff Notes, 2009). There is a higher degree of atrophy of the brain and this decrease the neural process at a faster rate. For example the major health problem that has been attributed to late adulthood period is dementia which is attributed to deterioration of brain. There are also major changes that occur in respiratory and circulatory process. They become less efficient and individual may experience breathing problems. There are also changes in the gastro intestinal tract which may lead to increased rate of constipation. Due to changes in the gastrointestinal tract, aging individuals may find it difficult to digest fat, milk and others foods.Physical changes in late adulthood also witness increased loss of bone mass especially for women due to years of breastfeeding and consequent loss of calcium. This leads to increased cases of bone diseases like osteoporosis (Cliff Notes, 2009). Body muscles also become weaker unless there is a strict program that is followed even in late adulthood. The skin becomes dry and less flexible. In both sexes, there is also a high rate of hair loss. There are major changes in the olfactory senses marked with decrease in sensory modalities. This means that there is decrease sense of taste, touché, smell, hearing, and vision.

Cognitive changes

Cognitive changes during late adulthood are complex and have a lot of effects on quality of life. Cognitive changes have the most deteriorating effects on quality of life of the individual (Cliff Notes, 2009). The most important cognitive changes notable among individuals in this age blanket is decline in neural and motor response speed. This leads to major physical changes that had been reviewed earlier like decline in olfactory functions, eyesight, hearing, and many others. Researchers have shown that decline in working memory leads to dementias. Reduction in brain function is perhaps the most noticeable factor underlying poor performance of cognitive tasks among the elderly.Cognitive changes among the elderly can be understood in two perspectives including intellectual changes and dementia. Let us review these closely:Research has shown that intellectual changes in elderly does not always lead to reduced ability to perform different tasks (Bly, 1988). It has also been shown that fluid intelligence, which is the ability to see and use patterns and relationships in order to solve problems, declines in later years. On the other hand, crystallized intelligences, which is the ability to use information gained to solve problems and make crucial decision, tend to rise slightly in late adulthood. However, research has shown that about 40% to 60% of the decline in cognitive performance can be reversed if individuals are given appropriate remedial training (Cliff Notes, 2009).Dementias have been held responsible for most of the cognitive defects which are witnessed in older people. Dementia disorders occur in more than 15% of all individuals above the age of 65. There are different causes of dementia among elderly but the leading cause has been identified to be Alzheimer’s disease which is a fatal disease beginning with confusion and lapses in memory eventually progress into complete loss of ability to take care of themselves.

Social changes

There are different social changes that occur during this period. The main social changes include decreased quality of social interactions which is mainly attributed to discrimination and stereotyping occurring in aging (Broderick and Blewitt, 2003). An example can be patronizing talks. There is also increased social segregation which may occur owing to cultural differences. There is also loss of comfortable social networks. For example there is loss of coworkers, friends, family, community members, and many others (Gather, 2008).Major process contributing to aging in late adulthoodThe process of aging has been difficult to understand although a number of researches have explored the subject in details (Broderick and Blewitt, 2003). Despite the advance in scientific research methods, there has not been any development on the methods of reversing aging which could reverse the trend of life in most people. There are three basic processes that have been identified as main contributors to the process of aging. These include selection, optimization, and compensation. Let us look at each process:


Selection is a process that involves limiting our focus on few areas of our expertise or our interest. This means that in the aging process, individuals tend to get absorbed in one area of interest such that the mind is not given alternatives (Bly, 1988). The mind is therefore confined to only one particular thinking pattern and the aging process sets in very fast. Research has shown that when the mind is involved in different activities, the aging process is slowed down since the mind is more active than when it is concentrating on one area of specialty.


On the other hand, optimization describes the process in which individuals tend to find or crate the most efficient rout to achieve what they want in life. Like in selection, individuals are limited in the areas they engage in and their mind become oriented to only one line of thinking (Gather, 2008). However in optimization, individuals may go an extra mile to exert their efforts on just one route which means there is an element of overworking. In the SOC model, optimization refers to the probability, level, and the scope of desirable or the attainment of goals. This means is it minimization of losses vs. maximization of gains.


Compensation describes the act of using a window when the door is closed. In other word, this describes resourcefulness of the individual. Compensation mainly describes individual adaptation to loss of resources (Broderick and Blewitt, 2003). This process becomes more operative when there are specific behavior capacity or skills that are reduced below the level that is required to the individual to function adequately. This is mainly as a response to loss of goals relevant means.Understanding the changes that occur in late adulthood and the process that lead to aging during these years is important in mapping out an intervention. Any intervention with group or individual should be aimed at reversing the negative effects of the changes in late adulthood. Using the three process of aging, the SOC model has been found effective in helping individuals reverse the negative effects of aging through targeting the main process leading to aging. Therefore any meaningful intervention during late adulthood must take into consideration the changes and the process that leads to these changes.ConclusionLate adulthood is the last stage in individual life and usually begins at 65 years of age. There are many changes that occur to individuals during this period. Among the physical changes, there is decrease in bone mass, physiological changes like decline in sense of taste, touch, smell, hear, and vision. Cognitive changes during this period are characterized by decline in brain function leading to dementia and other disorders, while social changes may include increase withdraw from public life. The three main processes leading to aging include selection, optimization and compensation. Understanding changes occurring in late adulthood and the process leading to aging is important to map out intervention programs.

Reference:Bly, R. (1988). A little book on the human shadow. Harper and RowBroderick, P., & Blewitt, P. (2003). The life span: Human development for helping professionals. Upper Saddle River: Pearson EducationCliff Notes, (2009). Development in late adulthood. Retrieved 8th July 2009 from http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/CliffsReviewTopic/Development-in-Late-Adulthood.topicArticleId-25438,articleId-25386.htmlGather, (2008). Middle and late adulthood changes. Retrieved 8th July 2009 from http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474977280018&nav=NamespaceSheehy, G. (1976). Predictable crises of adult life. New York: Dutton.