Late Adulthood

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Late Adulthood

Table of Contents


Discussion and Analysis4

Perceived Social Support4

Fear of Death4

Late Adulthood and End of Life5

Promoting Health and Wellness into Late Adulthood6

Mitigating Negative Aspects of Aging6

Ageism and Stereotypes Associated with Late Adulthood7

Various Views of Death and Dying at Different Points in Human Development Childhood8



Late Adulthood9

Cultural Attitudes toward Death and Dying10



Late Adulthood


The fastest growing segment of world population is the 65-plus age group. The proportion of the population over the age of 65 will continue to grow well into the next century. At present, approximately 13 percent of the population of the United States is over age 65. By 2030 that percentage will increase to more than 20 percent. This factor by itself indicates a need for personality researchers to understand the growth, development, and changes that occur in the later years. The present study deals with depressive symptomatology, which is considered to be a rather common problem afflicting those aged 65 and older. Although levels of depression are highest among old adults who are institutionalized, it has been estimated that approximately 15-20% of community-dwelling old adults experience significant depressive symptomatology. Depression increases both use and costs of health care, and leads to functional decline and loss of independence. Moreover, depressive disorders in late adulthood are associated with increased all-cause mortality and are often implicated in the elevated rates of suicide among old adults.

Developmental theory posits that a main task of late adulthood is the review of efforts and achievements in the preceding stages. Contemporary approaches define successful aging as the ability to cope with and learn from the challenges of life and aging. Late adulthood is a time very often beset with numerous demanding adjustments, such as the need to adapt to the deterioration of physical strength and health, to retirement and reduced income, to the death of one's spouse and close friends, the fear of one's own death, and the need to establish new affiliations with one's peer group. Because of the important losses that characterize the late adulthood period, preoccupation with issues of identity and relatedness are assumed to characterize this period. Current theoretical and empirical studies on life-span development show that, during the old adult period, perceptions of the self and relationships with others are renegotiated, imposing a reassessment of one's identity, ego integrity, and autonomy, as well as close interpersonal relatedness. This research suggests that impaired capacities in dealing with issues of self-identity and/or relatedness may have conspicuous deleterious effects in late adulthood. An overemphasis on issues of selfdefinition or relatedness results in dysfunctional cognitions and thoughts, and is assumed to constitute vulnerability to self-critical or dependent depression, respectively. (Swan, 1989)

Discussion and Analysis

Perceived Social Support

The idea that perceived interpersonal bonds play an important role in the regulation of distress is basic to conceptualizations of perceived social support in general, and in relation to late adulthood in particular. These studies emphasize the role played by personal beliefs regarding the risks and advantages of seeking help as they affect the development and use of support ...
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