Theories of Aging
Chapter 16 - Emotional and Social Development in Middle Adulthood
→Erikson's Theory: Generativity vs Stagnation
Generativity - reaching out to others in ways that give to and guide the next generation.
- Under way in early adulthood (pregnancy, raise a child or getting a job).
- It expands in beyond family, community, society.
- Generativy adult combine its personal goal with the well-being of a larger social world.
- Generativity - everything generated that outlive the self and ensure society's continity and
improvement: children, ideas, products, works of arts.
- It is not restricted to parents role.
- Generativity brings personal desires (middle-aged adults need to attain symbolic immortality)
and cultural demands (society imposes a social clock for generativity in midlife, requiring adults
to take responsability for the next generation through their role as parents, teachers, and
- a culture's belief in the species (the conviction that life is good and worthwhile, even in the
face of human destructiveness and deprivation) is a major motivator of generative action, which
has its goals improving humanity.
Stagnation- the negative outcome of this stage.
- Once people reach their life's goals (children, marriage, success), they become self-indulgent
- Adults with a sense of stagnation can no longer contribute to society's welfare bcs they place
their own security and comfort above challenge and sacrife. All by themselves
- Generativity increases in midlife
- Highly generative people appear specially well-adjusted (low anxiety and depression, high in
self-acceptance and life satisfaction, and more likely to have successful marriages and close
- They are also more open to new view points, possess leadearship qualities,desire more from
work than financial rewards, and care greatly about the welfare of their children, their partners,
their aging parents, and the wider society.
- It is also associated with more effective child rearing.
- Generativity seems to be enhaces is fathers more than mothers.
- African Americans more often engage in some sort of generativity than caucasians, like
religious group or activities.
→ Other Theories of Psychosocial Development in Midlife
- As Erikson's theory provides a broad sketch of adult personality. We are going to look t
Levinson's and Vaillant's Theories for a view of psychosocial change in midlife.
Levison's Seasons(era or stages) of Life
• Middle adulthood begin with a transitional period (age 40-45)
• Buiding of an entry life structure (age 45-50)
• Evaluation and revision of structutre (age 50-55)
• Culminating life structure (55-60)
- The majority of adults display this stages but bcs of gender sterotypes and differences in
opportunites, men and women had somewhat different experiences. Midlife transaction
- Around age 40
- Success in meeting adulthood goals
- Or making changes in career or personal life.
- Levinson's four fevelopmental tasks of middle adulthood
Modifying life structure: Gender similarities and differences
- Accept being old in response to age related changes.
- Women concern about being less atractive as they age
- Men also express apprehension over their changing appearance.
- As they confront their mortality and the actual or impending dealth of agemates they become
more aware of ways people can act destrcutively.
- Middle age also reconcile masculine and femininine parts of the self. Androgynous gender
- Middle aged tend to move in other direction. Like reducing their concern with ambition and
achievement and attend more carefully to the self, or women whoe dedicate their life rearing
child could then move to a job career.
Rebuilding the life structure in social context
- When poverty, unemployment, and lack of a respected place in society dominate the life
course, energies are directed toward survival rather tha pursuit of satisfying life structure.
Vaillant's adaptation to life
- Levison's stages was limited to 35-45-years-olds people.
- Vaillant involve psychosocial change in the fifties when the major concern is the survival of the
positive aspect of culture.
- As people reach the end of the midlife, they focus on no longer-term, less personal goals, such
as the state of human relation in their society.
- Then, they accept the not all problem can be solved in their lifetime.
Is there a midlife crisis?
- Levison showed that most men and women experienced a substantial inner confusion during
the transition to middle-adulthood.
- Vaillant saw feww examples of crisis.
- This contrating raise the question of how much personal upheaval (revolta) actually
accompanies entry to midlife.
- Similarly, wide indivivuals differences exist in response to midlife
- Overall, changes for men are more likely to occur in the early forties (levison's timetalbe).
While, for women may be posted to the late forties and fifites, when reduction in parenting
responsabilites gives them time and freedom to confront personal issue.
- But, abrupt disruption and agitation are the exception, not the rule.
To sum, life evaluation is common during middle age.
Chapter 18th - Emotional and Social Development in Late Adulthood 2nd Reading :
Ageing: definition, mechanisms and the magnitude of the problem
- 2 fundamentals paramenters of aging:
• Maximum lifespan
• The expectation of life or average lifespan
- These paramenters cannot be used for individuals. Only for animals.
- Ageing and Senescence - often used interchangeably (sinônimo).
• Progressive change in the tissues or organs of the body, leading to a decline in
function and dealth.
• Characteristics: include loos of skin elasticity, decline in muscular strength, loos
of hair, decline in immune competence, development of atherosclerosis and cataract
• Those features are common mainly after reproductive acivity and this period is
named Senesence, at which happens degenerative changes related to the passage of
• Ageing in the other way is refers to any time related process and could be said to
begin at conception.
- Ageing occurs, possibly, as a result of multiple causes, both environmental (extrinsic) and
genetic (intrinsic), which interact with each other.
Definitions of ageing
- It is defined by biologists as a continous process that starts at conception and continues until
- Stages: Birth, puberdty and the menopause... From this point on no clear definition or stages
- Passa of time from bith onwards
- Easy to measure
- Increasing age-specific mortality rates
- Variable cut-oof for "old" determined by unemployment rates
- Presence or absence of pathological process
- Incidende of chronic disease increase in later life
- Some biologist says it characterized as a failure to maitain homeostasis under condition of
- others suggest that normal ageing changes should satisfy 4 criteria:
- Better maker of health status
- Society expectation of what is considered to be a normal behavior. Successful and unsuccessful ageing
- There is much variability in ageing which suggest that inta-indivivudal plasticity and latent
reserve for learning in older people and support the notion that ageing can be associated with
new development or late life growth.
- With increasing age, the size the size of latent reserve diminishes, with a reduction in the
ability to learn new information and gradual cognitive decline.
- There is a balance between the gain and losses of informations. Education enhance the latent
reserves, but with the increasing age this balance becomes less positive.
- Social and Psychological models - dynamic interplay between gains and loss band between
the individuals and society.
- Medical model - adding life to years and not just years to life.
- Dynamic interaction between life expectancy and the age of onset of chronic ill health and
• Medical Model - compression of morbidity, absence of physical ilness and
• Social Model - Ability to adapt to changes in society to maintain role and status
• Psychological model - maintenance of mental competence and well being.
Theories of ageing
• Cellular Theories
- 2 experimental models: transplantation experiments and in vitro cell cultures. Programmed
- Accumulation of waste products disrupts cellular metabolism
- Cross linkage of DNA and connective tissues impairs cellular funct