chapt 18-Late Adulthood: Social and Emotional Development

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Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 1010
Triciavan Rhijn

Late Adulthood: Social and Emotional Development -Troubling emotions such as depression and anxiety tend to decline as we age, whereas positive emotions tend to remain fairly steady -As a whole, older Canadians are equally as happy as younger Canadians Theories of Social and Emotional Development Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory and Offshoots th -Labeled his 8 and final stage of life, the stage of ego integrity or despair -Believed that people who achieved positive outcomes to earlier life crises would be more likely to obtain ego integrity than despair in adulthood Ego Integrity Vs. Despair: -Basic challenge is to maintain the belief that life is meaningful and worthwhile despite physical decline and the inevitability of death -Ego integrity derives from wisdom and the acceptance of one’s lifespan being limited (requires the wisdom to let go) Robert Peck’s Developmental Tasks -Amplified Erikson’s stage of ego integrity vs. despair by outlining 3 developmental tasks that people face in late adulthood 1. Ego differentiation vs. work-role preoccupation-people need to find new ways of defining self-worth once they retire (e.g. community, spirituality etc) 2. Body transcendence vs. body preoccupation- people face inevitable physical decline therefore it’s important to focus on other traits such as cognitive or social abilities 3. Ego transcendence vs. ego preoccupation- preparing in some way to go beyond the physical limitations of one’s lifespan (e.g. help offspring, community) The Life Review -Daniel Levinson theorized that one aspect of the “midlife crisis” was that people realized they had more to look back on than to look forward to -Reminiscence was once considered a symptom of dementia, but contemporary researchers consider it to be a normal aspect of aging -Although the life reviews people reminisce upon may not be completely valid, it gives them an attempt to make life meaningful Disengagement Theory -The view that older adults and society withdraw from one another as older adults approach death (Book states theory is probably not that accurate) -Alternatively, the author argues that well-being among older adults is generally predicted by pursuing goals rather than withdrawal Activity Theory -The view that older adults fare better when they engage in physical and social activities -Research shows that physical activity is associated with a lower mortality rate in late adulthood Socio-emotional Selectivity Theory -The view that we place increasing emphasis on emotional experience as we age but limit our social contacts to regulate our emotions Psychological Development Self-Esteem • Richard Robins recruited over 300,000 individuals for an online questionnaire on self-esteem and discovered that generally the self esteem of males is higher than females • Self-esteem was highest in childhood and dipped in adolescence • Self-esteem then rose gradually throughout middle-adulthood and declined late in adulthood with most of the decline between the ages of 75 and 85 (could be because people accept themselves for who they are and no longer need to inflate their self esteem) • People report less body esteem as they age, with older men expressing less body esteem than older women • Older adults with poor body esteem tend to withdraw from sexual activity which frustrates their partner Independence Vs. Dependence - Being able to care for oneself is a core condition of successful aging -Those who are dependent on others tend to worry more about aging and encountering physical disabilities and stress -Independence in toileting is especially important in enabling older people to avoid a loss of their self-esteem Psychological Problems Depression -Affects some 10% of people aged 65 and older -Depression in older people can be either a continuation of depression from earlier periods in life, or a new development -Can be related to neuroticism, possible structure changes in the brain and genetic predisposition to imbalances of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine -Is associated with the loss of friends and loved ones, but it goes beyond sadness or bereavement (mentally healthy people bounce back within a year of losing someone close, the inability to bounce back is a symptom of depression) -Often goes undetected and untreated in older people -Depression may be overlooked because symptoms are masked by physical complaints such as low energy, appetite loss and insomnia -Health care professionals tend to focus more on physical health than mental health in older people -Depression is associated with memory lapses and other cognitive impairments such as concentrating -Can usually be treated the same way as in younger people-with anti- depressant drugs and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy -Untreated depression can lead to suicide, which is not uncommon among older people (highest suicide rates are among men who have lost their partner, lost their social networks or who fear physical illness an
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