Part 6: Growing Older

There is no definite time when we cross from being a middle-aged person to an older person, but for the purposes of this course we’re going to be speaking about the mid-sixties on. This is the longest developmental stage across the lifespan., and therefore this stage offers the most opportunities for development. In some ways, the fact that people of such varying chronological ages and conditions are in the same bracket may reflect ageism. When we’re preoccupied consciously or unconsciously with generalizations about any group of people based on a characteristic, we tend not to see variation in that category and similarities across categories. Therefore one of the things we’ll do is discuss that variation or diversity, especially in Canada and the U.S. but also around the world. In this chapter, we also will talk more about ageism.  We will continue to talk about developmental theories and facts regarding physical, cognitive, and socioemotional changes throughout life and the societal and personal strategies that seem to promote our development as old people, even as new obstacles arise to previous paths of fulfillment.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the increase in the percentage of older people worldwide
  • Explain the difference between life span and life expectancy
  • Describe how older adulthood is often subcategorized
  • Discuss different theories of aging
  • Describe the physical and sensory changes in late adulthood
  • Describe chronic health conditions during late adulthood, and the importance of nutrition and exercise
  • Discuss the physical and functional changes in the brain during late adulthood
  • Explain how sexuality changes in older adulthood
  • Describe common memory changes in older people, as well as theories to explain these changes
  • Define neurocognitive disorder and discuss several neurocognitive disorders that are more common in older people, including Alzheimer’s disease
  • Discuss work, retirement, and lifestyles of older people
  • Explain strategies used by older people to compensate for losses
  • Explain aging stereotype and the impact on older people
  • Discuss despair and regret, generativity, and paths to integrity in older people
  • Describe the relationships of older people with family and friends
  • Discuss mental health and substance use issues in relation to older people



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