Chapter 15 Physical and Cognitive Development in Middle Adulthood ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Changing Middle Age • As more people lead healthier lifestyles and medical discoveries help to stave off the aging process, the boundaries of middle age are being pushed upward. • Middle age is starting later and lasting longer. • Middle adulthood is the developmental period that begins at about age 40 and extends to about 60. • Middle age is full of changes, twists and turns, as people move in and out of states of success and failure. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Physical Development • Visible Signs • Height and Weight • Strength, Joints, and Bones • Vision • Hearing • Cardiovascular System • Sleep • Lungs ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Visible Signs • Usually the first outwardly visible signs of aging are apparent by the 40s or 50s. • The skin begins to wrinkle and sag due to loss of fat and collagen in underlying tissue. • Small, localized areas of pigmentation in the skin produce aging spots. • Hair becomes thinner and greyer. • Fingernails and toenails develop ridges and become thicker and more brittle. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Height and Weight • Individuals now lose height and many gain weight. • Adults lose about 1.27 cm of height per decade beginning in their 40s. • Body fat accounts for about 10% of body weight in adolescence, but it makes up about 20% or more in middle age. • Being overweight is a critical health problem in middle adulthood. • For individuals who are 30% or more overweight, the probability of dying in middle adulthood increases by about 40%. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Strength, Joints, and Bones • Muscle strength decreases noticeably by the mid 40s, particularly in the back and legs. • The cushions for the movement of bones (such as tendons and ligaments) become less efficient in the middle adult years. • After the late 30s there is progressive bone loss. • Women experience about twice the rate of bone loss as men. • By the end of midlife, bones break more easily and heal more slowly. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Vision • The ability of the eyes to focus and maintain an image on the retina experiences its sharpest decline between 40 and 59 years of age. • In particular, middle-aged individuals begin to have difficulty viewing close objects, causing many to wear bifocal glasses. • The eye’s blood supply also diminishes during the 50s or 60s. • There is also evidence that the retina becomes less sensitive to low levels of illumination. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Hearing • Hearing may start to decline by age 40. • Sensitivity to high pitches declines first, while the ability to distinguish low-pitched sounds doesn’t seem to decline much in middle adulthood. • Men usually lose their sensitivity to high-pitched sounds sooner than women do. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Cardiovascular System • The heart of a 20-year-old pumps 40 litres of blood per minute, while the heart of a 40-year-old pumps only 23 litres of blood per minute under comparable conditions. • Coronary arteries narrow. • Cholesterol level increases with age and begins to accumulate on the artery walls by age 60. • Artery walls thicken, blood pressure increases, and chance of stroke or heart attack increases. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Sleep • The total number of hours slept usually remains the same as in early adulthood. • Beginning in the 40s, however, wakeful periods are more frequent and there is less of the deepest type of sleep. • The amount of time spent lying awake in bed at night increases in middle age. • This produces the feeling of being less rested in the morning. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Lungs • There is little change in lung capacity through most of middle adulthood. • At about age 55, the protein in the lung tissue becomes less elastic. • The combination of loss of elasticity and gradual stiffening of the chest wall decreases the lung’s capacity. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Health Concerns and Wellness Strategies • The frequency of accidents now declines and people are less susceptible to colds and allergies. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Chronic Disorders • Chronic disorders are characterized by a slow onset and long duration. • Chronic disorders increase in middle adulthood. • Chronic disorders are characterized by a slow onset and long duration. • The most common chronic disorders vary for women and men. • Men have a higher incidence of fatal chronic conditions, while women have a higher incidence of nonfatal ones. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Culture, Personality, Relationships, and Wellness • Culture and Cardiovascular Disease • Type A/Type B Behavioural Patterns • Hardiness • Health and Social Relationships ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Culture and Cardiovascular Disease • Culture plays a particularly important role in cardiovascular disease. • As ethnic groups migrate, the health practices dictated by their cultures change while their genetic predispositions to certain disorders remains constant. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Type A/Type B Behavioural Patterns • Type A – a cluster of characteristics—excessive competitiveness, hard driven-ness, impatience, and hostility—thought to be related to the incidence of heart disease. • Type B – reflected in individuals who are relaxed and easy going. • Early research showed a profound link between type A behaviour and coronary disease, which is now thought of as not quite as strong. • Hostility is the characteristic most consistently associated with coronary problems. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Hardiness • Hardiness is a personality style characterized by a sense of commitment, control, and a perception of problems as challenges. • Studies have shown individuals with a hardy personality are less likely to succumb to illness when exposed to stressful situations. • Levels of illness dropped most dramatically when hardiness was combined with exercise and social support in the face of stress. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Health and Social Relationships • Researchers have revealed links between health in middle age and earlier pathways of relationships. • In one longitudinal study, individuals who were on a positive relationship pathway from childhood to middle age had significantly fewer biological problems than those on a negative relationship pathway. • Another study showed adults who experienced more warmth and closeness with their parents during childhood had fewer diagnosed diseases. • Health in middle age is also related to the current quality of social relationships. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Mortality Rates • Infectious disease was the main cause of death until the middle of the 20th century. • Chronic diseases are now the main cause of death for individuals in middle adulthood. • Heart disease is the leading cause of death. • Cancer and cerebrovascular disease are second and third respectively. • Men experience higher mortality rates than women for all of the leading causes of death. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Sexuality • Menopause • Hormonal Changes in Middle-Aged Men • Sexual Attitudes and Behaviour • Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Menopause • The time in middle age, usually late 40s or early 50s, when a woman’s menstrual periods cease. • There is a dramatic decline in the production of estrogen by the ovaries. • This decline produces some uncomfortable symptoms such as “hot flashes,” nausea, fatigue, and rapid heartbeat. • Some menopausal women report depression and irritability. • Cross-cultural variations in menopause have been found, but question still exist as to why. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Hormone Replacement Therapies • There are two main types of hormone replacement theory: estrogen alone (ERT), and estrogen combined with a progestin (HRT). • Currently, estrogen alone is not recommended for women who still have a uterus due to the increased risk for endometrial cancer. • Positive outcome of HRT is bone loss prevention. • HRT has also been tentatively linked to a protective effect for cardiovascular disease. • One of the potential risks of HRT is breast cancer. • Long-term use should be seriously evaluated. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Hormonal Changes in Middle-Aged Men • Men experience hormonal changes in their 50s and 60s, but nothing like the dramatic drop in estrogen that women experience. • Testosterone production begins to decline about 1% a year during middle adulthood, and sperm count shows a slow decline, but men do not lose their fertility in middle age. • Due to the drop in testosterone levels, men’s sexual drive often lessens, and their erections are less full, less frequent, and require more stimulation to achieve them. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Sexual Attitudes and Behaviour • The ability of men and women to function sexually shows little biological decline in middle adulthood. • Sexual activity does usually occur on a less frequent basis than in early adulthood. • The decline may actually be due to career interests, family matters, energy level, and routine. • A spouse or live-in partner determines the dramatic difference in frequency of sexual activity, particularly for women. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be transferred from person to person at any age. • Women in middle adulthood are more likely to practice “safe sex” with a new partner than middle aged men. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Intelligence • Fluid intelligence – one’s ability to reason abstractly, begins to decline in middle adulthood. • Crystallized intelligence – an individual’s accumulated information and verbal skills, continues to increase in middle adulthood. • This data was collected from a cross-sectional study, meaning cohort effects could be at work. • The Seattle Longitudinal Study is conducting an extensive study of intellectual abilities in adulthood. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
The Seattle Longitudinal Study • K. Warner Schaie is investigating the individual change and stability in intelligence across the life span. • The main mental abilities tested are: • Vocabulary • Inductive reasoning ability • Verbal memory • Spatial orientation • Number ability • Perceptual speed • The highest level of functioning for four of the six intellectual abilities has been found to occur in the middle adulthood years. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Information Processing • Speed of Information Processing • Memory • Expertise • Practical Problem Solving ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Speed of Information Processing • As Schaie found in his Seattle Longitudinal study, perceptual speed begins to decline in early adulthood and continues to decline in middle adulthood. • A common way to assess speed of information processing is through a reaction-time task in which individuals simply push a button at the appearance of a light. • Middle-aged adults are slower to push the button than young adults are. • The decline is not dramatic, and it is stronger for women than for men. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Memory • In Schaie’s study, verbal memory peaked in the 50s. • In other studies, verbal memory has shown a decline, particularly when assessed cross-sectionally. • Memory decline is more likely to occur when individuals don’t use effective memory strategies, such as organization and imagery. • Using such strategies, memory in middle adulthood may actually improve. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Expertise • Expertise involves having an extensive, highly organized knowledge and understanding of a particular domain. • Developing expertise is usually the result of many years of experience, learning, and effort. • Because it takes so long to obtain, expertise often shows up more in middle adulthood than in early adulthood. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Strategies of the Experts • Experts are more likely to rely on their accumulated experience to solve problems. • Experts often automatically process information and analyze it more efficiently when solving a problem than a novice does. • Experts have better strategies and short-cuts to solving problems in their domain than novices do. • Experts are more creative and flexible in solving problems in their domain than novices are. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Practical Problem Solving • Nancy Denney observed problem solving abilities in adults as they dealt with such circumstances as a bank error, and an irresponsible landlord. • She found that the ability to solve such practical problems increased through the 40s and 50s as individuals accumulated practical experience. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Job Satisfaction • Work satisfaction increases steadily throughout the work life, from age 20 to 60. • This is true for both college-educated and non-college-educated adults. • This is also true for both women and men. • There is a greater commitment to and involvement in our work as we get older. • Researchers have found the greatest physical and psychological well-being characterizes people who are doing as much paid work as they would like. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Career Challenges and Changes • Globalization has replaced the traditional White male work force with employees of different ethnic and national backgrounds. • The proliferation of computer technology compels middle-aged adults to become increasingly computer literate to maintain their work competence. • Many companies are offering incentives to get middle-aged employees to retire early. • Some individuals decide that they don’t want to do the same work they’ve been doing, forever. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Leisure • Leisure refers to the pleasant times after work when individuals are free to pursue activities and interests of their own choosing—hobbies, sports, reading. • Some developmentalists believe that middle age is a time of questioning how time should be spent and of reassessing priorities. • For many, middle adulthood is the first time in their lives when they have the opportunity to diversify their interests. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Religion and Adult Lives • In the recent McArthur Study of Midlife Development, more than 70% of the individuals said they are religious and consider spirituality a major part of their lives. • About one-half said they attend religious services less than once a month or never. • Females have consistently shown a stronger interest in religion than males have. • Although many Americans show a strong interest in religion and believe in God, they also show a declining faith in mainstream religious institutions. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Religion and Health • Religion and Physical Health • Coping • Happiness ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Religion and Physical Health • Several studies have documented that religious commitment had a protective influence on blood pressure rates. • A number of studies have confirmed a positive association of religious participation and longevity. • Possible reasons for these connections: • lifestyle issues • social networks • coping with stress ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Coping • Recently researchers have found that some styles of religious coping are associated with high levels of personal initiative and competence. • Religious cognitions can play an important role in maintaining hope and stimulating motivation towards recovery. • Religion also can forestall the development of anxiety and depression disorders by promoting social interaction. • Houses of worship are a readily available, acceptable, and inexpensive source of support. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Happiness • A number of researchers have found that religiously active individuals report greater happiness than do those who are religiously inactive. • Other research suggests that happy people do tend to have a meaningful religious faith. • We don’t know, however, whether faith enhances happiness or whether happiness induces faith. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Meaning in Life • Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning emphasized each person’s uniqueness and the finiteness of life. • Frankl said that the three most distinct human qualities are spirituality, freedom, and responsibility. • Frankl proposed that people need to ask themselves such questions as why they exist, what they want from life, and the meaning of their life. • Many individuals in middle age begin to ask these questions. ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.
Main Needs for Meaning That Guide People’s Lives • Need for purpose • Need for values • Need for a sense of efficacy • Need for self-worth ©2005 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.