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Chapter 16

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  1. Chapter 16 Physical and Cognitive Development in Middle Adulthood

  2. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  3. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  4. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  5. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  6. Physical Changes • Noticeable Visible Signs • Height and Weight • Strength, Joints, and Bones • Vision • Hearing • Cardiovascular System • Sleep Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  7. Noticeable Visible Changes • 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 grayer. • Fingernails and toenails develop ridges and become thicker and more brittle. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  8. Height and Weight • Individuals now lose height and many gain weight. • Adults lose about one-half inch 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%. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  9. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  10. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  11. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  12. Cardiovascular System • The heart of a 20-year-old pumps 40 liters of blood per minute, while the heart of a 40-year-old pumps only 23 liters 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  13. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  14. Health and Disease • The frequency of accidents now declines and people are less susceptible to colds and allergies. • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  15. Culture, Personality, Relationships, and Health • Culture and Cardiovascular Disease • Type A/Type B Behavioral Patterns • Hardiness • Health and Social Relationships Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  16. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  17. Type A/Type B Behavioral Patterns • Type A - a cluster of characteristics—excessive competitiveness, hard drivenness, 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 behavior and coronary disease, which is now thought of as not quite as strong. • Hostility is the characteristic most consistently associated with coronary problems. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  18. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  19. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  20. Health and Social Relationships • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  21. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  22. Sexuality • Menopause • Hormone Replacement Therapy • Hormonal Changes in Middle-Aged Men • Sexual Attitudes and Behavior Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  23. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  24. Menopause • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  25. Hormone Replacement Therapy • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  26. Hormone Replacement Therapy • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  27. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  28. Sexual Attitudes and Behavior • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  29. Sexual Attitudes and Behavior • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  30. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  31. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  32. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  33. Information Processing • Speed of Information Processing • Memory • Expertise • Practical Problem Solving Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  34. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  35. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  36. Memory • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  37. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  38. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  39. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  40. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  41. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  42. Job Satisfaction • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  43. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  44. Career Challenges and Changes • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  45. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  46. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  47. 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  48. Religion and 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 Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  49. 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 toward recovery. Black Hawk College Chapter 16

  50. Coping • 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. Black Hawk College Chapter 16