When does midlife begin?
What are some key appearance-changes in middle adulthood?
Changes in appearance
- Gray hair
- Thinning hair
- "Middle-age bulge" (expanding waistline)
- First wrinkles (change in skin/CT structure, excessive skin exposure, cigarette smoking, increased anxiety over physical changes)
What changes occur in bones and joints during middle adulthood? Predisposing factors?
Decreased bone mass:
- Women > men
- Low bone mass at skeletal maturity
- Low Ca
- Low Vitamin D
- Lack of weight-bearing exercise
- Excess alcohol, caffeine, sodium
- High protein diets
What changes occur in reproduction (women) during middle adulthood?
- Passage in middle-aged women from reproductive to non-reproductive years
- Perimenopause: irregular cycles, beginning in the 40s until completion at 50-55; loss of ability to bear children
- Menopause: menstruation stops
Other perimenopausal/menopausal changes in women?
Other changes in women:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Difficulty concentrating
- Vague aches and pains
- Cholesterol fluctuations
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
Other postmenopausal changes in women?
- Shrinkage of vaginal walls
- Decreased vaginal lubrication
- Shrinkage of external genitalia
- May lead to painful intercourse or failure to achieve orgasm
T/F: Postmenopausal changes are the primary reason for decline in women's sexual activity
False; primary reason is lack of appropriate or willing partner
How can menopausal symptoms be treated?
- HRT vs. herbal treatment
- Nonpetroleum-based lubrication
Changes in men in middle adulthood (reproductive)?
As with women, sexual activity is a "lifelong option"...
- Strong relationship with partner - Married middle-aged men have sex 4-8x/month
- Not readily available partnered men only 2-3x/month
What are the comparative levels of stress in middle adulthood?
Increased levels of short-term and long-term stress
- Physical changes become more evident (loss of physical capacity)
- Psychological effects
T/F: blue collar workers report more stress-related problems than do white collar workers? Why T/F?
- Less control
- Fewer outlets
- Less ability to delegate
What age has the least stress in adulthood?
> 65 years old
Do women or men have more stress? Sources of stress?
Women > Men
- Women: family and health-related
- Men: financial and work-related
What is "stress" (physiological)? Benefits/side effects?
- Increased heart rate
- Sweaty palms
- Hormone secretion
- Short-term: beneficial, peak-performance
- Long-term: physical toll, psychological toll, death
T/F: Stress is a source of psychopathology
- Doesn't influence how people react
- Improved coping with experience
How can stress be lessened/dealt with?
- Improved coping with experience
- Can be lessened by disclosure and discussion of problems
- Aerobic exercise (improved cognitive functioning, lowers stress, leads to improved mood)
What are the relative levels of cognition in midlife?
Cognitive development is relatively "quiet"
Higher levels of cognition with what?
Higher levels of expertise:
- Blend "emotion with cognition" in solving practical problems (e.g. dealing with unexpected loss)
- Problem-focused strategies used with instrumental issues (e.g. grocery shopping, navigating from place to place; household mgmt)
Higher practical intelligence
- Ability to cope with rapid-paced change
Expert performance (in terms of cognition) peaks when in life?
- More amenable to "lifelong learning"
What is encapsulation?
Related to cognition
- Processes of thinking become connected to products of thinking
- There is decreased ability to explain arrival at answers
What are the 5 factors of personality given by Cost and McCrae (that are considered when evluating personality changes throughout life)?
- Openness to experience
What characterizes neuroticism?
- Anxious, hostile, self-conscious, depressed, impulsive, vulnerable
- Calm, self-confident, comfortable, unemotional, even-tempered, hardy
Characteristics of extraversion?
- Thrive on social interactions
- Talkative, take charge, readily express opinions, like keeping busy, have boundless energy, prefer stimulation and challenge
- i.e. social workers, sales people
- Reserved, passive, quiet, serious, emotionally unreactive
Characteristics of openness to experience?
- Vivid imagination and dream life
- Appreciation of art
- "Willing to try anything once"
- Decisions based on situational factors not absolute rules
- i.e. ministers, counselors
- Down to earth
- Lack creativity
- Not curious
Characteristics of agreeableness?
- Accepting, work well with others, caring
- Suspicious, stingy, ruthless, antagonistic, critical, irritable
Characteristics of conscientiousness?
- Hard working, scrupulous, ambitious, energetic, persevering
- Negligent, disorganized, lazy, tardy, aimless, nonpersistent
So is personality stable over time?
McCrae and Costa say:
- Traits stop changing by age 30 and are "set in plaster"
- Many others studies support little change in personality traits between ages 30-90
Jones and Meredith say:
- Self-confidence, cognitive commitment, outgoing-ness, dependability change over a 30-40 year period
- Neuroticism may increase
- Extraversion may decrease
- None of the 5 traits remained completely stable (internet study 21-60 yo)
- Conscientiousness increased (advancement in workforce, forming intimate relationships)
- Agreeableness increased mostly in 30s
- Neuroticism change more in women; little variability in men
- Traits and environments interact to cause these changes
What changing priorities occur during middle adulthood?
Increasing concern with passing wisdom to youth rather than personal achievement
Erik Erickson: Generativity vs. Stagnation
- Generativity- being productive by helping others in order to ensure the continuation of society via guiding the next generation
- Stagnation- being unable to deal with the needs of one's children or provide mentoring to younger adults
Who are generative people?
- Derive satisfaction from grandchildren and are concerned about their well being
- Little desire to engage in day-to-day care of grandchildren
- Derive satisfaction from marriage, motherhood
- Personally invested in parenthood
- Exhibit guidance and care at work
- Exhibit caring behaviors toward others outside immediate family
How do personal concerns of middle-aged adults differ from those of young adults?
- Several important challenges
- Struggle with new issues
- Develop new concepts of themselves
- Intense reappraisal of one's life
- Precipitated by growing recognition that life is finite
- Characterized by mental turmoil
- Major upheaval
- Internal agitation followed by impulsive actions
- Long-standing relationships and achievements abandoned
- No insight
- Those left behind are shocked by the suddenness and abruptness of change
Most evidence finds that midlife is no more or less traumatic than any other period
- This argues against a "universal" midlife crisis
What is ego resilience?
- Personality resources that allows people to handle midlife changes
- High levels: change as an opportunity for growth
- Low levels; time of stagnation or decline
How do family dynamics change in middle adulthood?
- Middle age people become the "center" of the family ties
- Responsible for continuity of family identity
- Kinkeeper: person who gathers family members together for celebration; keeps family members in touch with each other; usually women, often mothers
- Sandwich generation- caught between competing demands of parents and children
How do men and women differ in having difficulty relating to others as part of the "sandwich generation"?
Women- trouble relating to adolescent children
Men- trouble relating to aging parents
Is the "empty nest" stage in which children leave home a smooth transition?
- Depends on the extent that parents approve and foster children's independence
- Mothers feel more distress and negative mood
- Only 25% of parents report feeling sad when the last child leaves home
- Parents continue to provide financial help when possible
What percentage of young American adults return home at least once before moving out?
Most commonly? Less?
50% ("boomerang kids")
- Saddled with college debt and cost of independent living
- Low GPAs
- Low sense of autonomy
- Expectation that parents will support them after graduation
- In some Southern European countries, young adults stay home until marriage or they find full time employment
- Parents where physically/verbally abusive
- Children were married
Daughters are __x as likely to provide care as sons. Why?
Daughters are 3x as likely to provide care as sons
- Women experience considerable pressure to provide care regardless of llocation (home vs. placement) vs. daily routine and lifestyle
What is filial obligation?
Adult children's sense of responsibility to care for their aging parents, if necessary ("We owe it to Mom or Dad")
Stressors in caring for aging parents?
More difficult for men or women?
- Coping with declines in parents' cognitive functioning and problematic behavior
- Infringement on adult children's other obligations/responsibilities (decreased work performance, family/job conflicts, economic problems, loss of identity)
More difficult for women
- More likely to result in reduction of work hours or quitting work
Rewards in caring for aging parents? What ethnicities are more likely to ___?
Caregiving can bring parents and adult children closer together.
Latino American, Asian, and African American caregivers:
- More likely to be an adult child, friend or relative
- Lower levels of depression, caregiver stress and burden
- More filial obligation
- Use religion, prayer or faith as a major coping strategy
Grandparenthood occurs commonly between what ages?
Between 40 and 60
- Some as young as late 20s or early 30s
Different interaction styles of grandparenthood dependent on?
- Age and needs of grandchildren
- Societal needs and expectations (i.e. passing on family history, teaching skills, religious, vocational, social values-- storytelling, advice)
How does grandparenthood differ for African Americans compared to other groups?
- Those under 40 feel pressure to care for their children's children
- Those over 60 take pride in important caregiving role
- More involved in teaching grandchildren
- More likely to take grandparent education courses
How does grandparenthood differ for Native Americans?
- Allows other adults to fill in for deceased or missing biological grandparents; surrogate grandparenting
- Children allowed to live with grandparents to ensure they learn native ways
How does grandparenthood differ for Asian Americans?
- Primary source of traditional culture for grandchildren
- May advocate more effectively for services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate
What are common reasons for grandparents providing basic needs for 1+ grandchildren?
- Incarcerated parents
- Addicted parents
- Parents unable to care for children
- Children with behavior or discipline problems
- Difficulties due to: cramped living space, social isolation, financial problems
How can rearing grandchildren be stressful?
- Changing routines, activities, school-related issues
- Problem behavior, hyperactivity, learning disabilities
- May lead to depression
T/F: Grandparents mostly believe that custody of their grandchildren is in the child's best interest despite the added stress?
- Report few negative effects
How can doctors help middle aged transitions?
- Educating patients regarding common physical and psychological manifestations
- Treating physical symptoms when appropriate
- Explaining that transitions manifest differently in individuals
- Providing honest opinions and advice
- Offering empathic support and reassurance
- Midlife is filled with physical, psychological, cognitive changes, along with personality adjustments
- Middle-aged persons must juggle career, personal future planning, and family needs
- How one transitions depends on multiple factors