Phases of Adulthood All societies divide the life span into recognized stages. These life stages or periods are marked by certain physical, psychological, and/or social milestones. Privileges, obligations, rights, and roles are assigned according to culturally shared definitions of periods of life (Hagestad & Neugarten, 1990). There are eight stages of life in Western industrialized societies.
Out of the eight stages, this paper will elaborate upon three phases which encompass young, middle and later adulthood. This paper will also include the issues that typically fall within the aforementioned phases. Adults may have the privilege of no longer being considered a child, but the responsibilities of life bear a greater weight than ever before. Young adulthood is on the forefront after adolescence has expired. A medley of changes occurs during the young adulthood age range of 18 to 35. The beginning of this stage is accompanied by the completion of high school, possible pursuit of higher education, maintaining full-time employment and other miscellaneous responsibilities.
In regard to health and biological factors, this age range is perfect for reproduction. Women have the best levels of fertility in their 20??™s.The human body will be at its peak potential for optimum physical performance.
This is considered to be the best time to maintain a healthy diet and exercise program, for the next phase of adulthood will bring changes that will ultimately involve diminished strength, stamina and health. Between 20 and 30 years of age, the adult has physically and emotionally matured. This is also a period where short-term memory is still growing.
Daily endeavors and experiences contribute to problem-solving and practical thinking. The social development and personality development for the young adult can be identified with a desire to be socially independent and with a high ambition to succeed and can include occupation selection, selecting a ? life-partner, starting a family, accepting responsibilities, and social networking (Nevid & Rathus, 2005). Middle age, 35-60 years of age, is considered to be ???prime-time.??? This stage of life is different from previous stage in a variety of ways. Erikson observed that middle-age is when most adults tend to be occupied with creative and meaningful work and with issues surrounding the family (Harder, 2009). He also believed that middle-aged adults were more involved with producing or creating something that will serve to improve the community. He named this stage Generativity because this is the stage where adults equate inactivity with worthlessness.
The life skills and lessons that were acquired earlier in life are now being utilized to benefit aspects of the current life stage. In contrast to young adulthood, the significant relationships have shifted to family, the workplace and community. In regard to the personality of a middle-aged person, they have already achieved maturity and self-assurance, which provides a greater level of comfort. Although, some adults face a time of crisis when they feel that they lack purpose and decide they must ???find??? themselves in order to gain meaning in their lives. Physical changes are necessary with age. Tangible changes are evident in the appearance of wrinkles, gray and/or balding hair, gradual shifts/increases of weight, increased body fat and decreased lean muscle mass (Annenberg, 2007).
Other physical changes are menopause, lower levels of hearing and vision, stiffening of the joints and after the age of 41, decreased reaction times. A factor of transition could involve the empty nest syndrome. Generally, at this stage the adults have a stable life and an established social network, but their children have left the house. It may be a difficult time as they come to terms with a form of abandonment.
If well adjusted, the parents will experience a new-found freedom, especially in regard to marital relations. Life can be even better if the married couple is healthy and has the capacity, physically and financially, to pursue postponed dreams or travel. If the couple cannot adjust to the departure of the children from the household, counseling, separation or divorce may result. From the age of 60 and on, more changes can be expected. During this stage, a senior citizen must adapt to changes or impaired functioning of the cardiovascular, respiratory, skeletal, nervous system, musculature, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems. All of these issues fall under the category of primary aging. Secondary aging would involve disease, neglect or personal choices that abused the body, such as smoking or drug use. Even though verbal skills and memory recall decline with old age, educational opportunities can help seniors mentally aware.
Crystallized intelligence, based on experience, remains steady throughout life, but fluid intelligence, the processing and working memory decreases. With that in mind, there are various programs that are geared towards older adults, which consist of effective learning methods. As many adult learners have proven that it??™s never too late to learn something new. Unfortunately, life involves loss, but more so in this age range. Not only will older adults deal with the loss of independence, declining health and physical strength, but they may have to cope with the loss of a spouse, parent(s), and close friends as well.
Friendships are just as important at this point in life as any other time. Senior relationships are a significant source of companionship and support. Social support, in the senior community, is associated with good health and isolation is a risk factor for mortality (Mental Health Weekly Digest, 2008). According to the Social Convoy Theory, reductions or changes in social contact in late life do not impair well-being because a stable inner circle of social support is maintained. The theory of Socio-emotional Selectivity conveys that senior citizens prefer to keep company with people who enhance their emotional well-being (Feldman, 2004). Age isn??™t just a number – it??™s an opportunity to know and love ourselves and do whatever is needed to make the best out of our individual circumstances. Each moment that we live, we are closer to death.
As morbid as that may sound, the choice to make the most out of life remains in the hands of the living. As long as the hands of time permit, adulthood can be a wonderful journey.? ReferencesAnnenberg, (2007). Discovering psychology: Ages 41-60. Retrieved September 1, 2010, from http://www.
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