Chapter 15: Middle Adulthood – Physical and Cognitive Development
Some theorists view middle age as a time of peak performance, whereas others portray it
as a time of crisis or decline. Middle age 50-65
Did you know:
1. Canadians are proud of their health care system.
a. Reduced access and lengthy wait times make it clear that we need to focus
on our health care system if we wish to protect it.
2. Sexuality continues to be an important part of a middle-aged woman’s life.
a. Some women feel liberated because of the separation of sex from
3. Sexual dysfunctions are not rare.
a. According to some studies, sexual dysfunctions are actually common.
4. The average IQ score of a nation may increase as a reflection of social changes.
a. IQ scores in Canada have actually risen over the past couple of
5. Scores on the verbal subtests of standardized intelligence tests can increase for a
a. This is true and is evidence that an old dog can learn new tricks.
6. Not all types of memory functioning decline in middle adulthood.
7. Creativity continues well into middle adulthood.
L01: Describe trends in physical development in middle adulthood
Physical Development: interindividual variability – no two people age in the same way
or at the same rate; physiological aging is defined by changes in the body’s integumenary
system, may well be unavoidable
Skin and Hair
• Production of melanin decreases – pigment responsible for hair colour
• Wrinkling, grey hair
• Skins loses elasticity because it’s producing fewer proteins
• Fewer keratinocytes produced – skin dyer and more brittle
• Vision – presbyopia – loss of elasticity in the lens; makes it harder to focus on,
accommodate nearby objects/fine print
• Response time increases with age, mainly because of changes in the nervous
system; age 25 or so we begin to lose neurons which are responsible for sensing
signals such as sights and sounds and for coordinating our muscular responses
• Lung tissue stiffens with age, limiting capacity to expand; exercise can help slow
down the process Lean-Body Mass and Body Fat
• Beginning at age 20, we lose nearly 7 lbs of lean-body mass with each decade;
accelerates after 45. fat replaces lean-body mass (which includes muscle)
• Loss of muscle reduces strength; change is gradual, exercise can compensate but
not re-achieve athleticism
• Is the rate at which the body processes or ‘burns’ food to produce energy
• Resting metabolic rate – basal metabolic rate (BMR) declines as we age
• Fatty tissue burns fewer calories than muscle
• Begins to lose density and strength at 40
• Cardiovascular system becomes less efficient, declines as less oxygen is taken
into lungs and heart pumps less blood; exercise can help
• Energy from glucose supports cell activities and maintains body temperature
• Tissues in our body become less capable of taking up glucose from bloodstream;
body tissues lose sensitivity to insulin, pancreas must produce more insulin
L02: Discuss the major health concerns of middle adulthood, including cancer and
Health: Ages 40-65 is better than ever; vaccinations; preventive health care; advanced
knowledge of curing and treating illness. Diet, exercise and new knowledge in how to
care for ourselves.
Leading Causes of Death
• Cancer, heart disease, accidents (some of which are preventable)
Health – Age 45-54 55-64
Cancer 119.0 333.4
Heart diseases 90.2 218.8
Accidents 40.7 33.2
Chronic liver diseases 18.0 22.6
Suicide 16.6 13.8
Strokes & other cerebrovascular disease 14.9 34.3
Diabetes 13.4 37.1
Chronic respiratory disease 8.4 40.4 Blood poisoning 5.4 12.9
Kidney disease 5.0 13.6
Homicide 4.8 3.0
Influenza & pneumonia 4.6 10.8
Age 45-54 55-64 65-74 75-84 84+
Cancer 119.0 333.4 755.1 1,280.4 1,653.3
Heart disease 90.2 218.8 541.6 1,506.3 4,895.9
• Cancer is overall leading cause of death in middle adulthood. In many cases it can
be controlled or cured especially when detected early.
• Chronic, noncommunicable disease characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells
• Benign (noncancerous – do not spread and rarely pose a threat to life)
• Malignant (cancerous)
• Metastases : cancerous cells in malignant tumours may also break away from the
primary tumour and travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to form
new tumours elsewhere in the body. May damage vital body organs and systems
and in many cases lead to death.
• Treatment: surgery, radiation chemotherapy, hormonal therapy; caution side
Site Men Women
All kinds 1 in 2 1 in 3
Prostate 1 in 6 ---
Breast 1 in 909 1 in 7
Lung and bronchus 1 in 13 1 in 18
Colon/rectum 1 in 17 1 in 18
Melanoma 1 in 53 1 in 78
Urinary bladder 1 in 28 1 in 88
Non-hodgkins lymphomas 1 in 46 1 in 56
Leukemia 1 in 68 1 in 96
Kidney and renal pelvis 1 in 68 1 in 114
Cervix --- 1 in 125
Ovary --- 1 in 58
Pancreas 1 in 80 1 in 80
Oral cavity and pharynx 1 in 71 1 in 147
• Every 7 minutes a Canadian dies of heart disease or stroke
• Arteriosclerosis – hardening of the arteries
o Atherosclerosis – buildup of fatty deposits called plaque in the lining of
the arteries • Factors – biological (family history), obesity; personality – type A, hostility or
holding on to anger, hostility, job strain chronic fatigue, stress, anxiety,