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Developmental Notes week 9

by: Ashlyn Masters

Developmental Notes week 9 PSYC 3120

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Ashlyn Masters

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About this Document

These notes cover Middle Adulthood: Physical and Cognitive Development
Developmental Psychology
Elizabeth Brestan Knight
Class Notes
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ashlyn Masters on Friday April 8, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSYC 3120 at Auburn University taught by Elizabeth Brestan Knight in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 16 views. For similar materials see Developmental Psychology in Psychlogy at Auburn University.


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Date Created: 04/08/16
Chapter 15- Middle Adulthood: Physical and Cognitive Development 4/7/16 Life Expectancy • Americans = 79 years o Women tend to live longer • Half-way point = 39.5 years • When does “middle age” begin? The Benchmarks of Change • Height o “Settling” beginning around 55 years o Osteoporosis (women at greater risk) o Average loss: 1 inch in men; 2 inches in women • Weight o “Middle-age spread” § Metabolism slows o Obesity is a concern, but it’s usually avoidable • Strength o Average 10% reduction by 60 years Changes in Senses • Vision o Vision and visual acuity (sharpness- ability to discern fine details) begin to decline around 40 years § Changes in the shape, elasticity and transparency of the lens § Presbyopia: the loss of acuity up close (not a disease) § Cataracts: lens of the eye becomes more opaque, making vision blurry (is a disease) § Glaucoma: increased pressure within the eye (is a disease) o Around age 40, the ability to discern fine detail begins to drop o Corso (1992) found that dynamic acuity (ability to discern details that are moving) may decline more rapidly than static acuity • Hearing o Changes begin around 30 years o Usually less evident than changes in eyesight § Loss of cilia, or hair cells, in the inner ear • Lose smaller cilia first (smaller cilia = higher pitch sounds) § Earn drum becomes less elastic with age o Presbycusis: age-related hearing loss, especially high frequencies o Sorry guys; men are more prone to hearing loss o Occupation/prolonged exposure to high-volume noises worsen hearing loss • Taste and smell o Taste buds replenished at a slower rate after 40 years o Smell receptors deteriorate o Overeat or over-salt food • Reaction time? o Some increase in reaction time, but usually not a very noticeable difference § Increase in reaction time = taking longer to react § Not really that noticeable o From age 20 to 60, there’s a 20% increase on simple tasks o Less of an increase on complex tasks § Driving- reaction time doesn’t really change § Drivers in middle adulthood have fewer accidents than drivers in their 20s Changes in Appearance • Physical changes occur throughout the lifespan • Changes in middle adulthood may have more significance (why, everywhere, everyone – these things are discussed in the chapter in the textbook) o People don’t want get old o Not exclusive to Western cultures, but Western cultures do put more emphasis on youth and being young o But in some cultures, being older is better (example: you’re wiser) o For women, it might be more emotional than for men • Delaying unwanted changes o No surprises here: lifestyle is important § Healthy diet § Regular exercise § No smoking and minimal drinking • Better health • Improved strength and endurance • Healthier body composition • Maintain neural functioning • Lower risk of heart disease and osteoporosis • Lower stress and enhance well-being o “Use it or lose it” Hormones • Human growth hormone (HGH) declines • Sex hormones (e.g. testosterone and estrogen) being to decline • Changes in Reproduction- Female o Female Climacteric: the transition from being able to have children to not § Average age 45 years, and may last 15-20 years § Identifiable signs of the climacteric: • Irregular periods • Perimenopause: hormone-related changes occurring about 10 years before menopause • Menopause: the cessation of menstruation (40-60 years) • Hot flashes – some, but not everyone • About 10% women experience severe symptoms, but many more report no adverse symptoms o Differences by race/ethnicity o Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) § In the past, ERT is the first choice in treating climacteric symptoms § Reduced risk of heart disease, bone loss, stroke and colon cancer § However, maybe an increased risk of breast cancer and blood clots o Women’s Health Initiative study (2002) found that risks outweighed benefits o Current thinking – it depends on the individual. Some women are good candidates while others aren’t • Reproduction after Menopause o Age of becoming a mother is more flexible now than in the past o Average age of new mothers 26-29, up from 23-25 in the 1970s § Almost a global phenomenon § This increase is seen in several countries across the developed and developing world o New reproductive methods are becoming more common § Egg freezing/harvesting, egg donation, surrogacy § Implanting embryo after menopause can still lead to viable pregnancy o Advantages vs. Disadvantages of being an older new mother § Advantages • More experience and more resources overall • More responsible • More money • Established career • Better educated • Better equipped to deal with baby care, health concerns § Disadvantages • Greater risk for chromosomal abnormalities • Greater chance of miscarriage after 40 years of age • Chronic health conditions may co-occur with pregnancy (e.g., hypertension, diabetes) • Changes in Reproduction- Male o Male climacteric: period of change in male reproductive system § Typically begins between 50-59 years § Unlike the female climacteric, no exact start point § Men are able to father children throughout middle adulthood o Specific changes: § Decline in testosterone and sperm count § Enlargement of the prostate gland possibly leading to difficulties in urination § Erectile dysfunction • Sexuality in Middle Adulthood o Frequency of intercourse tends to decline in middle adulthood (there’s a chart/table in the textbook) o However sexual activity continues to be important part of life o Many report more sexual freedom and enjoyment compared to earlier in life § Children are grown and away from home § Less concern about pregnancy § Less self-consciousness about your body or like, how you are in bed o However, some experience difficulties § Erectile dysfunction in men § Pain during intercourse reported by a small proportion of women Health in Middle Adulthood • On average, middle adulthood is a period of relative good health o Most report few to no health problems or disabilities o Compared to younger cohorts, people 45-65 years are at less risk of infections, allergies, respiratory diseases and digestive problems § Possible reasons why: immunity, take less unnecessary risks • However, concern about health tends to increase • Also certain chronic diseases (e.g., arthritis, diabetes, hypertension) begin to appear in middle adulthood • Reasons for Individual Variation in Health o Most middle-aged adults are relatively healthy o Others experience the onset of chronic disease o Factors that contribute to variations: § Lifestyle is important in reducing risk § Genetics play a role • Hypertension often runs in families § Socioeconomic status and environment • Generally, lower SES means more disability and health problems • For example, death rate of middle-aged African Americans is 2x higher than White Americans • But when controlling for SES, there’s no significant difference o Some personality traits are linked to increased risk of disease § Type A: hostility, driven, multi-tasking § Type D: someone who’s more distressed/neurotic than others • D = distress • Experience more distress, depression, high-strung, etc. • Longitudinal studies with middle-aged subjects found link between type D personality and: o Early death o Increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease Cognitive Development in Middle Adulthood • Intelligence in Middle Adulthood o Does intelligence decline in middle adulthood? § Complicated by the way we define intelligence and by how we study development o Multiple kinds of intelligence § Crystalized: information, skills and strategies acquired with experience § Fluid: processing, reasoning and memory o When looking at two kinds of intelligence separately… § Fluid intelligence does tend to decline with age § Crystalized intelligence, however, tends to stay the same or even increase • Why do cognitive changes happen? o Brain functioning begins to change in middle adulthood o Genes involved in memory, learning and mental flexibility begin to function less efficiently around 40 years o Adults in middle adulthood use different brain regions • It’s not all bad o Competence in one’s career continues to improve o Middle-aged adults come to hold some of the most influential positions in society • Development of Expertise •


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