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9: Middle Adulthood
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- 9.1: Introduction to Middle Adulthood
- Middle adulthood (or midlife) refers to the period of the lifespan between young adulthood and old age. This period lasts from 20 to 40 years depending on how these stages, ages, and tasks are culturally defined. This may be the least studied period of the lifespan because it is a relatively new period of life. Life-expectancy has increased globally by about 6 years since 1990 and now stands at 68 years and ranges from 57 years in low-income countries to 80 in high-income countries.
- 9.2: Physical Development
- There are few biologically based physical changes in midlife other than changes in vision, more joint pain, and weight gain. Consequently, midlife adults have to increase their level of exercise, eat less, and watch their nutrition to maintain their earlier physique. It becomes important for midlife adults to take preventative measures to enhance physical well-being.
- 9.3: Cognitive Development
- Abstract reasoning in a particular field requires a knowledge base that we might not have in all areas. So our ability to think abstractly depends to a large extent on our experiences. Some adults lead patterned, orderly, lives in which they are not challenged to think abstractly about their world. When we work extensively in an area, we may gain expertise. An expert tends to perform actions in a more automatic fashion.
- 9.4: Psychosocial Development
- Tasks of the midlife transition include 1) ending early adulthood; 2) reassessing life in the present and making modifications if needed; and 3) reconciling “polarities” or contradictions in ones sense of self. This new perspective on time brings about a new sense of urgency to life. The person becomes focused more on the present than the future or the past.
- 9.5: Relationships
- Many of the research findings about singles reveal that they are not all alike. Happiness with one’s status depends on whether the person is single by choice and whether the situation is permanent. Intrinsic marriages are a relatively recent phenomenon arising out of the 20th century focus on romantic love as a basis for marriage and increased independence of the partners. Marriage today is viewed as less necessary for economic survival.
- 9.6: Work and Personality
- A person may be at their peak of performance at work during this time. Connections between work units, companies, culture, and operations may be appreciated for the first time and with that, a midlife worker may be able to contribute to an organization in new, more comprehensive ways. Midlife may also be the peak time for earning and spending to meet the demands of launching children or caring for aging parents.
- Lecture: Middle Adulthood
- Slideshow: Middle Adulthood