Erikson’s Stage for Late Adulthood Ego Integrity vs. Despair “Adults who arrive at a sense of Ego Integrity feel whole, complete, and satisfied with their achievements. They have adapted to the mix of triumphs and disappointments that are an inevitable part of love relationships child rearing, work, and community involvement” (592). Despair occurs when “elders feel they have made many wrong decisions, yet time is too short to find an alternate route to integrity” (593). This sense of despair can include bitterness, anger, defeat, hopelessness and contempt for others.
Peck’s Theory: Three Tasks of Ego Integrity The conflict of Ego Integrity vs. Despair includes these three components: Ego differentiation vs. work-role preoccupation: Finding ways to affirm self-worth outside the work role. Body transcendence vs. body preoccupation: Focusing on cognitive and social powers in order to “transcend” physical limitations. Ego transcendence vs. ego preoccupation: Accepting that life is finite by finding ways to contribute to the welfare of future generations.
Labouvie-Vief’s Theory: Emotional Expertise In early adulthood, thinking becomes more pragmatic. In late adulthood, emotional abilities expand promoting more effective coping and reflection. Older adults may describe emotions in more complex and personalized ways, and be better able to interpret negative events in a positive light.
Reminiscence and Life Review Reminiscence: “Telling stories about people and events from the past and reporting associated thoughts and feelings” (594). Life Review: Occurs when a person “calls up, reflects on, and reconsiders past experiences, contemplating their meaning with the goal of achieving greater self- understanding.” (594). Research suggests that reflecting on the past is positive for psychological well-being and that adults who engage in a life review are more likely to develop a sense of ego integrity (Butler, 1968).
Stability and Change in Self- Concept and Personality The “Big Five” personality traits remain stable throughout life. The self-concept is more secure and complex in late adulthood. Three shifts in personality take place in late adulthood: Agreeableness-generosity, acquiescence and good naturedness increase in late adulthood Sociability declines slightly Acceptance of change increases Participation in religious activities remains fairly stable throughout adulthood, but may become more meaningful for older adults.
Individual Differences in Psychological Well-Being Control vs. Dependency: Older adults are more likely to receive attention for dependent vs. independent actions – (these are known as the “dependency-support script” and the “independence-ignore script.” Health: a powerful predictor of psychological well-being in late adulthood. Negative Life Changes: Older adults are likely to experience more negative life changes than their younger cohorts – though older adults seem better able to deal with them. Social Support and Social Interaction: continue to play a powerful role in reducing stress, thereby promoting physical health and psychological well-being.
Social Theories of Aging Disengagement Theory: Elders “disengage” from society as society “frees them” of responsibilities. Activity Theory: Suggests elders interact less with society because of social barriers to engagement rather than desire. Socioemotional Selectivity Theory: Suggests that with age, the function of social interaction changes. Younger adults are more likely to value gather information and receiving self-affirmation in relationships Older adults value emotion-regulating function of interaction
Elder Suicide People 75 and older have the highest suicide rate. Elder men are more likely than women to commit suicide, and elderly white Americans are more likely to commit suicide than ethnic minorities. More elderly vs. younger adults complete suicide. The ratio of attempts to completions for younger adults is 300 to 1; for older adults it is 4 to 1. Losses of all types and chronic or terminal illness involving severe physical pain are risk factors for suicide, particularly for men or socially isolated individuals. Warning signs for elder suicide are similar to those of earlier stages of life and include putting personal affairs in order, dependency, statements about dying, indirect self-destructive acts and sleep and appetite changes.
The Social Contexts of Aging Half of American ethnic minorities live in inner cities; 1/3 of Caucasian Americans do. Most senior citizens live in suburbs and suburban elders have higher incomes, better health and easier access to social services than inner city elders. However, inner city elders are more likely than small town and rural elders to have these same advantages. Fear of crime may restrict the activities and undermine the morale of adults living in inner cities. Although older adults are less frequently the victim of violent crime, they are more likely to be the victim of purse snatchers or pickpockets. 88% of older adults in Western industrialized nations stay in their own homes and neighborhoods where they spent their adult lives.
Relationships in Late Adulthood I Social Convoy model: represents social network; people closest to you travel closest; the shifts over time and breaks down for some. Marriage: 1 in every 5 US marriages will survive for 50 years. Marital satisfaction increases from middle to late adulthood, when it is at its peak. Divorce and Remarriage: Only about 1% of adults in late adulthood divorce, although the rate of divorce for people over 65 has increased in recent generations. Widowhood: Widows (male and female) make up 33% of the US elderly population. 50% of women and 15% men over 65 are widowed. Never-Married, Childless Older Adults: 5% of older Americans remain unmarried and childless throughout their lives.
Relationships in Late Adulthood II Siblings: Nearly 80% of US people over 60 have at least one living sibling, most living within 100 miles of each other and having frequent contact. Friendships: Having friends is an especially strong predictor of mental health for the elderly and friendships may be more rewarding than family relationships. Functions: intimacy and companionship, acceptance (particularly for elderly women), links to the larger community, and protection from psychological consequences of loss. Characteristics Relationships with adult children: 80% of ever-married adults in the US have living children. Relationships with adult grand children and great- grandchildren: In developed nations, a little over 50% of people over 65 have a grandchild who is at least 18.
Elder Maltreatment About 1.5 million Americans over 65 are mistreated by people closest to them every year. Four Types: Physical Abuse Physical Neglect(3 rd most common) Psychological Abuse (2 nd most common) Financial Abuse (most common form). Risk Factors: Dependency of the Victim Dependency of the Perpetrator Psychological Disturbance and Stress of the Perpetrator History of Family Violence Institutional Conditions Preventing Elder Maltreatment
Retirement and Leisure The decision to retire Affordability is usually the first consideration Good health, a close relationship between work life and self- esteem and a pleasant work environment predict persistence at a job. Women retire earlier than men, with the exception of women in poverty. Adjustment to retirement For most people, retirement does not affect mental health. Physical limitation are likely to lead to retirement (rather than the reverse). Leisure activities: Involvement is positively related to psychological well-being.
Factors Predicting Successful Retirement “Relief” from a high stress or unsatisfying job (not missing the work environment!) Especially for women, a continuous work life with consistency between expectations and actual achievement Control over the retirement decision The ability to give up the social contacts and predictable schedule of the work environment High quality social support A high number of leisure activities with a spouse
Successful Aging Important components of successful aging (see list, page 619). Successful aging is facilitated by societal contexts such as adequate health care, housing and social services. In the US, the federal government guarantees citizens 60 and over access to a wide variety of services, although not all eligible individuals are able to take advantage of these services. development of new faith capacities openness to other religious perspectives enlarged vision of common good Religious involvement associated with better physical, psychological well-being closeness to family and friends greater generativity