Human development is the pattern of movement and change. There are different stages of development; however there is a difference in the stages based on cultures and life expectancy. Some things that make the differences between stages of development are cultural differences, personal differences, and historical events. One conflict that occurs in the development process is nature versus nurture.
Nature is typically described as genetics, while nurture is described as all of a person’s experience. There are also different ways to define age, such as chronological, biological, psychological, and social stages. One example of a stage in lifespan development is the stage of middle adulthood. Middle Adulthood is described as from the age 40/45 – 60/65. One reason it is so hard to draw a line of what age begins or ends a stage of development is because we have loose social clocks and our lives widely vary.
In middle adulthood, gross motor skills, which involve large muscle groups and activities, generally begin to decline throughout the rest of our lives. Middle adulthood comes with gradual changes in the physical parts of the body. The older adults get the more they begin to lose height and gain weight. Into the 40’s and 50’s is when the skin begins to sag, wrinkles, and age spots begin to form. In some cases, people’s hair will begin to thin, their nails will begin to thicken, and their teeth will begin to yellow.
Throughout middle adulthood, bone loss and a condition called sarcopenia will begin to occur. Sarcopenia is when adults lose muscle mass and strength due to aging, at age 50, you are expected to lose 1-2% of muscle per year. Although, working out to build muscle will help prevent sarcopenia from occurring. When aging, adults should expect their cholesterol and blood pressure to increase, especially for women experiencing menopause. With age comes disease and loss of elasticity in the lungs. A disorder called metabolic disorder creates hypertension, obesity, insulin resistance, and weight gain. Although there is no cure, it appears exercise and weight loss helps to decrase the occurrence of muscle loss.
Changes in sexuality will also occur during middle adulthood. A condition called climacteric, causes the loss of fertility. Menopause will begin in women around the age of 52 and the androgen count will drop gradually in men. The adult immune system will decline beginning in the twenties most likely due to thymus and the inability to produce mature T cells. Obesity in adulthood is related to hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease that occurs in middle adulthood, although obesity could be due to genetics as well.
In middle adulthood, the leading cause of death is cancer and cardiovascular disease. Cancer increases by a multiple of ten and only 40% of people who have it are cured. Car wrecks decline but, falls resulting in fractures and deaths increase. Cardiovascular disease can usually be detected by a build up of plaque in the arteries, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Heart attacks occur frequently as well as arrhythmias and angina pectoris. As adults continue aging the risk of disease dramatically increases and intensifies.
Developments also occur in the human brain throughout middle adulthood. New neurons are produced all through life. New dendrites form and grow up until the 70’s and brains continue to rewire themselves. Myelination starts around 40-50 years old between the limbic system and the cortex, and a decrease in lateralization is likely to occur. As a person ages, it appears that vision, scent, taste, and hearing all decline. Problems in vision occur due to presbyopia, the loss of the ability to focus at distances. Another problem in vision occurs because the blood supply to the eyes begins to decline and they need more light to see. Hearing can begin to decline as early as the 40’s. Taste and smell go hand and hand, some adults’ abilities to taste begins to decline in the 60’s and lead them to want more flavorful and spicy foods.
Not all adults reach the formal operation stage of Piaget’s theory; people mostly reach it in subjects they’ve had experience with. After the forties, adults speed of mental processing decreases. Some findings have shown that young adults have better episodic memories than older adults. They have also found it takes older adults longer to retrieve semantic memory and their older memories are less accurate than newer ones.
Older adults feel fewer negative emotions, better emotional control, and more positive emotions. They tend to have more selective social relationships, meaning they choose who they talk to more than they have before. People in middle adulthood are usually more temperament the more they age, it can be modified by experiences but not from one extreme to the other. Adults who had easy temperament as babies usually adjust well when they become adults. Adults who were more difficult as babies have social problems, women tend to have marital problems and men tend to be less educated.
Patterns of inhibition and emotional control continue to persist as these people grow into adults.. If a person has high behavioral inhibition patterns they have a stable heart rate, high cortisol levels, and high activity in the frontal lobes of their brain. The older you are, the more you understand who you are as and individual. In adulthood, self awareness is high because you have had time to experiment and you accept your own good and bad qualities. The person you wanted to be when you grew up is seen more in middle adulthood than any other stage.
When you enter middle adulthood, you tend to look at your life review more than you used to. Adults in middle adulthood tend to focus on them more than anybody else, they are self absorbed. The older you get, the more your social skills and relationship skills develop, men usually want less interaction with others while women tend to want more. In early middle adulthood many people find themselves taking care of aging parents and adult children, so they are often considered the “sandwich generation.” A Study of Midlife Development was conducted and they found that 70% of them are religious and 75% of them pray. Many people tend to become grandparents in their 40s. They like being as wise and intelligent in life experiences, they may even offer childcare. Grandparents may be older and tired, but they do love anytime they can spend with their grandkids.
The stage of middle adulthood in life development is a time for change, growth, and some deterioration. This stage comes at a time where some are physically fit and healthy while others are sick and fat. The key to being healthy during middle adulthood is exercise and workouts. Most of the adults in this stage have kids who are growing up and parents who are close to their deathbeds. This is the stage of their lives where most are still able to get around and are retiring so they can adventure or fulfill the dreams they had when they were younger. While some aspects of life may decline, others get better. Middle aged adults become grandparents and they love spending time with their grandkids.
These adults also tend to have more social skills and they pick who they want to socialize with. In middle adulthood the memory, begins to fade away or become foggy and not as accurate or clear as it once was. The adult’s muscles also begin to deteriorate causing them to not be as strong as they were when they were younger. Middle aged adults often tend to look back on their life and see all of their successes and failures and evaluate themselves. Although, the adults do not usually question who they are, they know exactly who they are and who they want to be. They can’t stop aging, but they can make the most of their lives and do things to prevent the breakdown of their bodies.