FRHD 1010 Chapter Notes - Chapter 18: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Daniel Levinson, Panic Disorder

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Chapter 18 – Late Adulthood: Social and Emotional Development
Evaluate various theories of social and emotional development in late adulthood
Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial theory and offshoots
o8th stage – ego integrity or despair (Erikson’s 8th life crisis, defined by
maintenance of the belief that life is meaningful and worthwhile despite
physical decline and the inevitability of death vs. depression and
omaintain belief that life is meaningful and worthwhile despite physical
decline and inevitability of death; requires wisdom to let go (accumulated
relationship and things)
Robert Peck’s Developmental Tasks
oAmplified Erikson’s theory, 3 tasks people face
Ego differentiation vs. work-role preoccupaton – look for new
things to do (volunteer)
Body transcendence vs. body preoccupation – physical decline
Ego transcendece vs. ego preoccupation – as death draws nearer,
securing future of children and grandchildren, work in the church,
Daniel Levinson – people realize they have more to look back on
than forward to
Disengagement theory – the view that older adults and society withdraw from one
another as older adults approach death – theory probably not very accurate
Activity theory – the view that older adults fare better when they engage in
physical and social activities
Socioemotional selectivity theory – the view that we place increasing emphasis on
emotional experience as we age but limit our social contacts to regulate our
emotions (development of older adults’ social networks). As we age we are more
focused on emotionally fulfilling experiences, limiting social contacts to a few
individuals who are of major importance (not implying antisocial), don’t want to
involve themselves in painful social interactions. Carstensen and her colleagues
also note that older people’s perceived limitation on future time increases their
appreciation for life, which brings out positive emotions.
Discuss psychological development in late adulthood, focusing on self-esteem and
maintaining independence
Various psychological issues affect older adults, including self-esteem and the factors
that contribute to self-esteem in late adulthood. Self-esteem, as we will see, is tied to
both independence and dependence. Also, the psychological problems of depression and
anxiety can affect us at any age, but they warrant special focus in late adulthood.
oRichard Robins and colleagues recruited 300,000 for questionnaire; self-
esteem of males was higher than that of females; self-esteem was highest
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in childhood and dipped into adolescence; self-esteem rose throughout
middle adulthood and declined in late adulthood (ages 70-85)
oRobins and Trzesniewski suggestions in drop in self-esteem: life changes
(retirement, loss of partner, reduced social support, declining health,
decline in socio-economic status) or older people are wiser and more
oErikson, ego transcendence, people accept themselves as they are at that
age and no longer need to inflate their self-esteem
oExpress less ‘body esteem’ (pride in appearance and functioning of
bodies); men accumulate fat around middle, women around the hips;
sexual arousal problems distress men
Independence vs. dependence
oBeing able to care for oneself appears to be a core condition of successful
aging. Sensitive issue around toileting – effects self-esteem
Psychological problems
oDepression – 10% of people aged 65+, can be related to personality factor
of neuroticim, structural changes in the brain, genetic predisposition to
imbalances. Looking at links between depression and physical illnesses
(Alzheimers, heart diseas, stroke, Parkinsons, cancer). Associated with
loss of friends and loved ones; mental disorder that goes around sadness or
bereavement. Often goes undetected and untreated – masked: low energy,
loss of appetite, insomnia; associated with memory lapses and cognitive
impairment (concentration). Untreated – suicide, not uncommon among
older people.
oAnxiety disorders
3% of those 65+, coexist with depression in 8-9%; women twice as
likely affected than men. Most common: generalized anxiety and
phobic disorders; panic disorder is rare. Can be harmful to older
people’s physical health; mild tranquilizers quell anxiety in older
adults; psychological interventions (cognitive-behaviour therapy)
Generalized anxiety disorder – general feelings of dread and
Phobic disorders – irrational, exaggerated fear of an object or
Panic disorder – recurrent experiencing of attacks of extreme
anxiety in the absence of external stimuli that usually evoke
Agoraphobia – fear of open, crowded place
In 2004, Canadians volunteer about 2 billion hours. The average number of hours
volunteered increases with age. Ages 15-24 average 63 hrs per year, 65+ average 111
Discuss the social contexts in which people age, focusing on housing, religion, and
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