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Life-Span Development Twelfth Edition. Chapter 17: Physical Development in Late Adulthood. Life Expectancy and Life Span. Life Span: the maximum number of years an individual can live; has remained between 120–125 years

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life span development twelfth edition
Life-Span Development Twelfth Edition

Chapter 17:

Physical Development in Late Adulthood

life expectancy and life span
Life Expectancy and Life Span
  • Life Span: the maximum number of years an individual can live; has remained between 120–125 years
  • Life Expectancy: the number of years that the average person born in a particular year will probably live
    • Has increased an average of 30 years since 1900
    • Average life expectancy today is 77.6 years
life expectancy and life span1
Life Expectancy and Life Span
  • Cross-Cultural Differences:
    • Japan has highest life expectancy (81 years)
    • Differences in life expectancy across countries are due to factors such as health conditions and medical care
  • Ethnic Differences:
    • Life expectancy for African Americans is 7 years lower than that of non-Latino Whites
  • Females’ ability to outlive males widens beginning in the mid-thirties
    • Social factors (health, attitudes, habits, lifestyles, occupation)
    • Biological factors
life expectancy and life span2
Life Expectancy and Life Span
  • Number of centenarians is increasing by approximately 7% each year
    • Getting older may not mean getting sicker
    • Many centenarians are women
      • Among centenarians, men are more likely to be healthier than women
    • Ability to cope successfully with stress seems to be important to survival
  • Other important factors:
    • Genes and family history
    • Health, education, personality, and lifestyle
young old old old oldest old
Young-Old, Old-Old, Oldest-Old
  • Some developmentalists divide late adulthood:
    • Young-old are aged 65 to 74
    • Old-old are aged 75 or more
    • Oldest-old are aged 85 or more
  • Important to consider function rather than age
  • Differences between levels of “old”:
    • Compared with oldest-old, young-old have a greater potential for physical and cognitive fitness, higher levels of emotional well-being, and more effective strategies for mastering gains and losses of old age
young old old old oldest old1
Young-Old, Old-Old, Oldest-Old
  • The Oldest-Old:
    • Are mostly female, widowed, and living alone
    • Are usually hospitalized at some time in last years of life
    • Die mostly alone in a hospital or institution
    • Are a heterogeneous, diverse group
biological theories of aging
Biological Theories of Aging
  • Cellular Clock Theory: cells can divide a maximum of 75-80 times; this places the maximum human life span at 120–125 years of age
    • Telomeres become shorter each time a cell divides
  • Free-Radical Theory: people age because when cells metabolize energy, the by-products include unstable oxygen molecules, or free radicals
    • Free radicals damage DNA and other cellular structures
biological theories of aging1
Biological Theories of Aging
  • Mitochondrial Theory: aging is due to the decay of mitochondria
    • Mitochondria: tiny bodies within cells that supply essential energy for function, growth, and repair
  • Hormonal Stress Theory: aging in the body’s hormonal system can lower resistance to stress and increase the likelihood of disease
    • Prolonged, elevated levels of stress hormones are associated with increased risks for many diseases
the aging brain
The Aging Brain
  • On average, the brain shrinks 5% to 10% between the ages of 20 and 90
    • May result from a decrease in dendrites, damage to myelin sheath, or the death of brain cells
  • Some areas of the brain shrink more than others
    • Shrinkage of the prefrontal cortex is linked with a decrease in working memory and other cognitive activities
  • A general slowing of function in the brain and spinal cord begins in middle adulthood and accelerates in late adulthood
  • Aging has been linked to a reduction in the production of certain neurotransmitters
the adapting brain
The Adapting Brain
  • As the brain ages, it adapts in several ways:
    • Neurogenesis: the generation of new neurons throughout the life span
    • Dendrite growth increases from the 40’s to 70’s
    • Older brains rewire to compensate for losses
    • Hemispheric lateralization can decrease; may improve cognitive functioning
the immune system
The Immune System
  • The immune system declines in functioning with age
    • Extended duration of stress; diminished restorative processes
    • Malnutrition involving low levels of protein
  • Exercise improves the immune system, and influenza vaccination is very important for older adults
physical appearance and movement
Physical Appearance and Movement
  • Wrinkles and age spots become more noticeable
  • People get shorter with aging due to bone loss in their vertebrae
  • Weight typically drops after we reach age 60; likely because we lose muscle
  • Older adults move more slowly than young adults
  • Exercise and appropriate weight lifting can help reduce these declines
sensory development
Sensory Development
  • Vision:
    • Decline in vision becomes more pronounced
    • Adaptation to dark and driving at night becomes especially difficult
      • Decline may be the result of a reduction in the quality or intensity of light reaching the retina
    • Color vision may decline as a result of the yellowing of the lens of the eye
    • Depth perception declines in late adulthood
      • Decrease in contrast sensitivity
sensory development2
Sensory Development
  • Diseases of the Eye:
    • Cataracts: a thickening of the lens of the eye that causes vision to become cloudy, opaque, and distorted
    • Glaucoma: damage to the optic nerve because of the pressure created by a buildup of fluid in the eye
    • Macular Degeneration: deterioration of the macula of the retina, which corresponds to the focal center of the visual field
sensory development3
Sensory Development
  • Hearing:
    • Hearing impairments are typical in late adulthood
      • 15% of the population over age 65 is legally deaf
      • Usually due to degeneration of the cochlea
    • Some (but not all) hearing problems can be corrected by hearing aids
  • Smell and Taste:
    • Smell and taste losses typically begin about age 60
      • Less decline in healthy older adults
      • Often leads to a desire for more seasoned foods
  • Touch and Pain:
    • Slight decline in touch sensitivity with age
    • Older adults are less sensitive to pain
the circulatory system and lungs
The Circulatory System and Lungs
  • Cardiovascular disorders increase in late adulthood
  • Rise in blood pressure can be linked with illness, obesity, anxiety, stiffening of blood vessels, or lack of exercise
  • Lung capacity drops 40% between the ages of 20 and 80, even without disease
  • Orgasm becomes less frequent in males with age
  • Many older adults are sexually active as long as they are healthy
    • Older adults who do not have a partner are far less likely to be sexually active than those who have a partner
  • Various therapies have been effective for older adults who report sexual difficulties
health problems
Health Problems
  • Probability of having some disease or illness increases with age
    • Arthritis is the most common
    • Hypertension is the second most common
  • Older women have a higher incidence of arthritis, hypertension, and visual problems than older men
  • Older men are more likely than women to have hearing impairments
  • Lifestyle and social and psychological factors are linked to health in older adults
health problems2
Health Problems
  • Nearly 75% of older adults die from heart disease, cancer, or cerebrovascular disease (stroke)
  • Ethnicity is linked with death rates of older adults
    • African Americans have high death rates for stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and female breast cancer
      • Asian Americans and Latinos have low death rates for these diseases
health problems3
Health Problems
  • Arthritis: an inflammation of the joints accompanied by pain, stiffness, and movement problems
    • Common in older adults
    • Symptoms can be reduced with:
      • Use of some drugs like aspirin
      • Range-of-motion exercises
      • Weight reduction
      • Joint replacement in extreme cases
health problems4
Health Problems
  • Osteoporosis: extensive loss of bone tissue
    • Affects women more often than men
    • Can be prevented by:
      • Eating calcium-rich foods and vegetables
      • Having a regular exercise program
      • Medication
  • Accidents: 7th leading cause of death in older adults
    • Healing and recuperation are slower in older adults
    • Exercise programs can reduce risks
substance abuse
Substance Abuse
  • Medications can increase the risks associated with consuming alcohol or other drugs
  • Majority of U.S. adults 65 and older completely abstain from alcohol
  • Substance abuse among older adults may be an “invisible epidemic”
  • Late-Onset Alcoholism: onset of alcoholism after the age of 65
    • Often related to loneliness, loss of a spouse, or a disabling condition
  • Moderate drinking of red wine is linked to better health and increased longevity
exercise nutrition and weight
Exercise, Nutrition, and Weight
  • Exercise:
    • Active adults are healthier and happier
    • Benefits:
      • Linked to increased longevity
      • Related to prevention of common chronic diseases
      • Associated with improvement in the treatment of many diseases
      • Can optimize body composition and reduce the decline in motor skills as aging occurs
      • Reduces the likelihood that older adults will develop mental health problems
      • Linked to improved brain and cognitive functioning
exercise nutrition and weight2
Exercise, Nutrition, and Weight
  • Nutrition and Weight:
    • Some older adults restrict their dietary intake in a way that may be harmful to their health
    • Decreased snacking between meals may contribute to harmful weight loss
    • Calorie restriction has been proven to extend the life span of certain animals, but it is not known if this works in humans
    • New research suggests that antioxidants may help slow the aging process and possibly prevent some diseases
exercise nutrition and weight3
Exercise, Nutrition, and Weight
  • Other factors such as exercise, better health practices, and good nutritional habits may be actual cause of positive correlation between vitamin intake and slower aging, but more research needs to be done
  • There is now more interest in the possible link between vitamins and cognitive performance in older adults
health treatment
Health Treatment
  • Some studies show older adults in the U.S. receive the recommended medical care only half the time
  • Probability of being in a nursing home or other extended-care facilities increases with age
    • The quality of these facilities varies and is a source of concern
      • Over 33% fail to meet minimum federal standards
  • Many specialists recommend alternatives, such as home health care, day-care centers, and preventative medicine clinics
health treatment1
Health Treatment
  • Patient’s feelings of control and self-determination are important for health and survival in nursing homes
    • Coping skills may reduce stress-related hormones, improving overall health