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Chapter 18. SOCIAL AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT IN LATE ADULTHOOD. Learning Objectives. PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT AND SUCCESSFUL AGING. Personality Development and Successful Aging. Personality change depends on specific personality characteristics What do you think these are?.

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  2. Learning Objectives


  4. Personality Development and Successful Aging Personality change depends on specific personality characteristics What do you think these are?

  5. Continuity and Change in Personality • Fundamental continuity to personality • Profound social environmental changes throughout adulthood may produce fluctuations and changes in personality • Some discontinuities in development

  6. Discontinuities of Development: What Do Theorists Say? • Changes in personality occur as a result of new challenges in later adulthood.

  7. Erik Erikson Ego-integrity-versus despair • Process of looking back over one's life, evaluating it, and coming to terms with it • Integrity • Comes when people feel they have realized and fulfilled the possibilities that have come their way • Despair • Occurs when people feel dissatisfied with their life, and experience gloom, unhappiness, depression, anger, or the feeling that they have failed

  8. Robert Peck Personality development in elderly people is occupied by three major developmental tasks or challenges • Redefinition of self-versus-preoccupation-with-work-role • Body-transcendence-versus-body-preoccupation • Ego-transcendence-versus-ego-preoccupation

  9. Daniel Levinson People enter late adulthood by passing through transition stage • View themselves as being “old” • Recognize stereotypes and loss of power and respect • Serve as resources to younger individuals • Discover new freedom to do things for simple sake of enjoyment and pleasure

  10. Bernice Neugarten Four different personality types in people in their 70s • Disintegrated and disorganized • Passive-dependent personalities • Defended personalities • Integrated personalities

  11. Life Review and Reminiscence Common Theme of Personality Development • Triggered by increasingly obvious prospect of one's death • Provides better understanding of past • Resolves lingering problems and conflicts • Leads to sense of sharing, mutuality, and feeling of interconnectedness with others

  12. Age Stratification Approaches to Late Adulthood Age stratification • Suggest that economic resources, power, and privilege are distributed unequally at different stages of the life course

  13. What else? • Power and prestige for elderly have eroded in industrialized societies • Rapidly changing technology causes older adults to be seen as lacking important skills • Older adults are seen as non-productive members of society and in some cases simply irrelevant

  14. Does age bring wisdom?

  15. Developmental Diversity Cultural differences in the way the elderly are treated are often exaggerated • Eskimos do not leave their elderly to die on ice floes • Chinese revere old age but there is great individual variation

  16. Cultures that revere old age have several things in common • Homogeneous in socioeconomic terms • Control of finances by older adults • Continued engagement in socially valued activities • Organized around extended families

  17. Things to Consider • Wisdom reflects accumulation of knowledge, experience, and contemplation • Wisdom is not the same as intelligence

  18. Staudinger and Baltes Study • Older participants benefited more from experimental condition designed to promote wise thinking • Older adults appear to be able to draw on a more sophisticated theory of mind

  19. Successful Aging Secrets: Three major approaches

  20. Disengagement Theory: Gradual Retreat • Late adulthood involves gradual withdrawal from world on physical, psychological, and social levels • Withdrawal is a mutual process and not necessarily negative

  21. Activity Theory: Continued Involvement • Happiness and satisfaction from high level of involvement • Adaptation to inevitable changes • Continuing/replacing previous activities

  22. And so… Neither disengagement theory nor activity theory provides a complete picture of successful aging

  23. Continuity Theory: A Compromise Position • People need to maintain their desired level of involvement in society to maximize their sense of well-being and self-esteem • Regardless of activity level, most older adults experience positive emotions as frequently as younger individuals • Good physical and mental health is important in determining overall sense of well-being

  24. Selective Optimization with Compensation According to the model proposed by Paul Baltes and Margret Baltes, successful aging occurs when an older adult focuses on his or her most important areas of areas. Is this unique to old age? (Source: Based on Baltes & Baltes, 1990.)

  25. Review and Apply

  26. Review and Apply

  27. Review and Apply

  28. Review and Apply


  30. Places and Spaces • Living at Home • Specialized Living Environments • Continuing-care community • Assisted living • Nursing institutions • Adult day care • Skilled nursing

  31. Living in Nursing Homes • Greater the extent of nursing home care = greater adjustment required of residents • Loss of independence brought about by institutional life may lead to difficulties • Elderly people are as susceptible to society's stereotypes about nursing homes

  32. Where do you hope to spend the last days of your life?

  33. I think I can, I think I can…or can I? • Institutionalism and Learned Helplessness • Institutionalism • Learned helplessness

  34. Consequences of Loss of Control in Nursing Home Care • Profound effect on their well-being • Can you think of any of these effects?

  35. Economics of Late Adulthood • People who were well-off in young adulthood remain so in late adulthood • Those who were poor remain poor in late adulthood

  36. Poverty and the Elderly While 10 percent of those 65 years of age and older live in poverty, women are almost twice as likely as men to be living poverty. (Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2005.)

  37. Other Differences Related to Poverty Racial and marital variables • 8 percent of whites in late adulthood live below the poverty level • 19 percent of Hispanics and 24 percent of African Americans live in poverty • Divorced black women aged 65 to 74 had a poverty rate of 47 percent

  38. Financial Vulnerability in Older Adulthood Reliance on a fixed income for support • Social Security benefits • Pensions, and savings, rarely keeps up with inflation Rising cost of health care

  39. Work and Retirement Retirement is major decision • Social Security • Part-time employment • Mandatory retirement

  40. Other Questions to Consider • Besides finances, what do you think are some important factors in deciding on the right time to retire? • What factors might contribute to the specific retirement path a given person takes?

  41. Some employers.. • Encourage older workers to leave their jobs in order to replace them with younger employees whose salaries will be considerably lower • Believe older workers are not up to demands of the job or are less willing to adapt to a changing workplace

  42. Retirement

  43. Atchley & Barusch: Stages

  44. Stages of Retirement

  45. Planning For—and Living—a Good Retirement • Plan ahead financially • Consider tapering off from work gradually • Explore interests before retirement • If you are married or in a long-term partnership, spend some time discussing views of ideal retirement with partner • Consider where you want to live • Determine advantages and disadvantages of downsizing your current home. • Plan to volunteer your time

  46. Review and Apply

  47. Review and Apply


  49. Marriage in Later Years: Together, Then Alone

  50. Stress of Retirement Stress of retirement or old age may change relationship • 2 percent of divorces in the U. S. involve women over 60 • Husband may be abusive or alcoholic • Husband may find a younger woman Divorce is harder on women than men • 5 percent of the elderly never married and late adulthood brings fewer changes to their lives