Ch-13 Reflection



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John W. Santrock

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Chapter 13

Physical and Cognitive Development in Middle


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Chapter Outline

• The nature of middle adulthood

• Physical development

• Cognitive development

• Careers, work, and leisure

• Religion, spirituality, and meaning in life








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The Nature of Middle Adulthood 1

• Changing midlife

• Defining middle adulthood

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The Nature of Middle Adulthood 2

Changing midlife

• As adults become older, their age identity is younger than their chronological age.

• An increasing percentage of the population is made up of middle-aged and older adults.

• “Rectangularization” of the age distribution

©Colorblind Images/Getty Images

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The Nature of Middle Adulthood 3

Defining middle adulthood

• Middle adulthood: 40 to 45 years of age to 60 to 65 years of age

• Declining physical skills and increasing responsibility

• Awareness of the young-old polarity

• Transmitting something meaningful to the next generation

• Reaching and maintaining career satisfaction








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The Nature of Middle Adulthood 4

Defining middle adulthood

• Gains and losses and biological and sociocultural factors balance each other.

• Late midlife (55 to 65) is likely to be characterized by

• Death of a parent

• Last child leaving the parental home

• Becoming a grandparent

• Preparation for and actual retirement

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Physical Development 1

• Physical changes

• Health, disease, stress, and control

• Mortality rates

• Sexuality

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Physical Development 2

Physical changes

• Visible signs

• Skin wrinkles and sags

• Age spots appear

• Hair thins and grays

• Nails thicken and become more brittle

• Teeth yellow

• Height and weight

• Individuals lose height and gain weight.

• Being overweight is a critical health problem.








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Physical Development 3

Strength, joints, and bones

• Sarcopenia: age-related loss of muscle mass and strength

• Cushions for bone movement become less efficient.

• Leading to joint stiffness and more difficulty in movement

• Progressive bone loss

(Top) ©Bettmann/Getty Images; (bottom) ©Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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Physical Development 4

Vision and hearing

• Accommodation of the eye: ability to focus and maintain an image on the retina

• Experiences sharp declines between 40 to 59 years

• Difficulty viewing close objects

• Reduced blood supply decreases visual field.

• Hearing can start to decline by age 40.

• High-pitched sounds typically lost first

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Physical Development 5 Cardiovascular system

• High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease

• Linked to weight gain between 45 to 60

• Linked to unhealthy diet in adolescence

• Linked to lower SES

• Metabolic syndrome: hypertension, obesity, and insulin resistance

• Exercise, weight control, and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help.

©Ryan McVay/Getty Images








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Physical Development 6


• Lung tissue becomes less elastic at approximately age 55, decreasing lung capacity.

• Increased cardiorespiratory fitness during early adulthood linked to better lung health over time

• Sleep needed for optimal performance

• Wakeful periods become more frequent in the 40’s.

• Sleep-disordered breathing and restless legs syndrome increases in 40’s.

• Less effective immune system functioning linked to less sleep

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Physical Development 7

Health, disease, stress, and control

• Chronic disorders: slow onset and a long duration

• Rare in early adulthood but increase in middle age

• Stress and disease

• Elevated cortisol levels linked to physical health problems

• The immune system and stress

• Stress and the cardiovascular system

• Culture and health

• Control

• Peaks in midlife then declines in late adulthood

• Bidirectional link between perceived control and health

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Physical Development 8

Mortality rates

• Chronic diseases are the main cause of death during middle adulthood.

• Heart disease

• Cancer

©Eye of Science/Science Source








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Physical Development 9


• Climacteric: midlife transition in which fertility declines

• Menopause: cessation of a woman’s menstrual periods

• During the late forties or early fifties

• May cause hot flashes, nausea, fatigue, rapid heartbeat

• Perimenopause: transitional period from normal menstrual periods to no menstrual periods at all

©Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images

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Physical Development 10

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

• Treatment for unpleasant side effects of menopause

• Augments the declining levels of reproductive hormone production by the ovaries

• Consists of various forms of estrogen, usually in combination with a progestin

• HRT linked to increased breast cancer risk

Hormonal changes in middle-aged men

• Decline in sexual hormone level and activity

• Erectile dysfunction: Inability to achieve and maintain an erection

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Physical Development 11

Sexual attitudes and behavior

• Sexual activity occurs less frequently than in early adulthood.

• Middle-aged men are more interested in sex than are middle-aged women.

• Living with a spouse or partner makes the difference in terms of engaging in sexual activity

• Frequency linked to increased cognitive functioning








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The Sex in America Survey: Frequency of Sex at Different Points in Adult Development

Gender and Age Not at all A few times per year A few times per month 2 to 3 times a week

Men Age Groups Not at all A few times per year A few times per month 2 to 3 times a week

18 to 24 15 21 24 28

25 to 29 7 15 31 36

30 to 39 8 15 37 23

40 to 49 9 18 40 27

50 to 59 11 22 43 20

Women Age Groups Not at all A few times per year A few times per month 2 to 3 times a week

18 to 24 11 16 2 9

25 to 29 5 10 38 37

30 to 39 9 16 6 33

40 to 49 15 16 44 20

50 to 59 30 22 35 12

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Cognitive Development 1

• Intelligence

• Information processing

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Cognitive Development 2


• Crystallized intelligence: accumulated information and verbal skills

• Continues to increase in middle adulthood

• Fluid intelligence: ability to reason abstractly

• May begin to decline in middle adulthood








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Cognitive Development 3

The Seattle Longitudinal Study: involves extensive evaluation of intellectual abilities during adulthood

Main mental abilities tested

• Verbal comprehension

• Verbal memory

• Spatial orientation

• Inductive reasoning

• Perceptual speed

Classified participants as

• Decliners, stable and gainers for

• Number ability, delayed recall, and word fluency

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Cognitive Development 4

Information processing

• Speed of information processing

• Reaction-time task

• Causes for the decline in speed

• Levels of analysis

• Cognitive

• Neuroanatomical

• Neurochemical

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Cognitive Development 5


• Verbal memory declines during middle adulthood.

• Linked to changes in working memory and ineffective memory strategies








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Cognitive Development 6


• Rely on accumulated experience

• Process information automatically and analyze it more efficiently

• Have better strategies and shortcuts to solving problems

• Are more creative and flexible in solving problems

Practical problem solving

• Everyday problem solving important aspect of cognition

• Improves between early adulthood to middle adulthood

• Begins to decrease at about 50 years of age

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Fluid and Crystallized Intellectual Development Across the Life Span

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Longitudinal Changes in Six Intellectual Abilities from Age 25 to Age 95

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Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Comparisons of Intellectual Change in Middle Adulthood

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Careers, Work, and Leisure 1

• Work in midlife

• Career challenges and changes

• Leisure

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Careers, Work, and Leisure 2

Work in midlife

• The role of work is central during middle age.

• In the U.S., about 80% of people aged 40 to 59 years of age are employed.

• A time of evaluation, assessment, and reflection about work

©Ariel Skelly/Getty Images








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Careers, Work, and Leisure 3

Career challenges and changes

• Challenges

• Globalization of work

• Rapid developments in information technologies

• Downsizing organizations

• Early retirement

• Pensions and health care

• Changes

• Self-motivated

• Consequence of losing one’s job

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Careers, Work, and Leisure 4

Leisure: pleasant times after work.

• When individuals are free to pursue activities and interests of their own choosing

• Leisure pursuits linked to better cognitive functioning and longer life

Changes may produce expanded opportunities for leisure.

©Digital Vision/Getty Images

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Religion and Meaning in Life 1

• Religion and adult lives

• Religion and health

• Meaning in life








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Religion, Spirituality, and Meaning in Life

Religion and adult lives

• Religion: organized set of beliefs, practices, rituals, and symbols that increases an individual’s connection to a sacred or transcendent other

• Religiousness: degree to which an individual is affiliated with an organized religion

• Participates in prescribed rituals and practices

• Feels a sense of connection with its beliefs

• Involved in a community of believers

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Level of Spirituality in Four Adult Age Periods

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Religion and Meaning in Life 2

Religion, spirituality and health

• Religion is positively linked to health.

• Religious commitment helps to moderate blood pressure and hypertension.








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Religion and Meaning in Life 3

Meaning in life

• Emphasized each person’s uniqueness and the finiteness of life

• According to Frankl, the three most distinct human qualities are

• Spirituality

• Freedom

• Responsibility

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Religion and Meaning in Life 4

According to Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs, the four main needs are

• Need for purpose

• Need for values

• Need for a sense of efficacy

• Need for self-worth

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© 2020 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. Authorized only for instructor use in the classroom. No reproduction or further distribution permitted without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education.

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