sbs 200 human development module 8 assignment


Essay: Write a 800-1500 word essay addressing each of the following questions. Be sure to completely answer all the questions. Separate each section in your paper with a clear heading that allows your professor to know which question you are addressing in that section of your paper.

Support your ideas with at least two (2) citations in your essay.

Make sure to reference the citations using the APA writing style for the essay. The cover page and reference page do not count towards the minimum word amount.

1. Cite examples of how older adults can compensate for age-related physical declines.

2. Cite evidence that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and cerebrovascular dementia.

3. Describe cognitive functions that are maintained or improve in late adulthood. What aspects of aging contribute to them?

4. Cite features of neighborhoods and residential communities that enhance elders’ life satisfaction.

5. Why is adjustment to late-life divorce usually more difficult for women and adjustment to widowhood more difficult for men?

6. What psychological and workplace factors predict favorable adjustment to retirement?

7. Explain why older adults think and talk more about death than do younger people but feel less anxious about it.

This related information from the lesson:


Vastly different rates of aging are apparent in late adulthood. A complex array of genetic and environmental factors combine to determine longevity. Dramatic gains in average life expectancy—the number of years that an individual born in a particular year can expect to live—provide powerful support for the multiplicity of factors that slow biological aging, including improved nutrition, medical treatment, sanitation, and safety. Although most Americans over age 65 can live independently, some need assistance with activities of daily living or, more commonly, with instrumental activities of daily living, such as shopping and paying bills.

The programmed effects of specific genes, as well as the random cellular events believed to underlie biological aging, make physical declines more apparent in late adulthood. Although aging of the nervous system affects a wide range of complex activities, research reveals that the brain can respond adaptively to some of these age-related cognitive declines. Changes in sensory functioning become increasingly noticeable in late life: Older adults see and hear less well, and taste, smell, and touch sensitivity may also decline. Hearing impairments are far more common than visual impairments and affect many more men than women.

Aging of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems becomes more apparent in late adulthood. As at earlier ages, not smoking, reducing dietary fat, avoiding environmental pollutants, and exercising can slow the effects of aging on these systems. A less competent immune system can increase the elderly person’s risk for a variety of illnesses, including infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease, certain forms of cancer, and a variety of autoimmune disorders.

As people age, they have more difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and sleeping deeply—a trend that begins earlier for men than for women. Outward signs of aging, such as white hair, wrinkled and sagging skin, age spots, and decreases in height and weight, become more noticeable in late adulthood. Problem-centered coping strategies yield improved physical functioning in the elderly, and assistive technology is increasingly available to help older people cope with physical declines.

Physical and mental health are intimately related in late life. The physical changes of late life lead to an increased need for certain nutrients, and exercise continues to be a powerful health intervention. Although sexual desire and frequency of sexual activity decline in older people, longitudinal evidence indicates that most healthy older married couples report continued, regular sexual enjoyment. Illness and disability climb as the end of the lifespan approaches. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and emphysema claim many lives, while arthritis and type 2 diabetes increase substantially. At age 65 and older, the death rate from unintentional injuries is at an all-time high.

Dementia refers to a set of disorders occurring almost entirely in old age in which many aspects of thought and behavior are so impaired that everyday activities are disrupted. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, can be either familial (which runs in families) or sporadic (where there is no obvious family history). With no cure available, family interventions ensure the best adjustment possible for the Alzheimer’s victim, spouse, and other relatives. Careful diagnosis is crucial because other disorders can be misidentified as dementia. Family members provide most long-term care, especially among ethnic minorities with close-knit extended families.

Individual differences in cognitive functioning are greater in late adulthood than at any other time of life. According to one view, elders who sustain high levels of functioning select personally valued activities to optimize returns from their diminishing energy and come up with new ways to compensate for cognitive losses. Research shows that language and memory skills are closely related. Although language comprehension changes very little in late life, retrieving words from long-term memory and planning what to say become more difficult. Finally, traditional problem solving, in the absence of real-life context, shows declines.

Cultures around the world assume that age and wisdom go together. Older adults with the cognitive, reflective, and emotional qualities that make up wisdom tend to be better educated and physically healthier and to forge more positive relations with others. As in middle adulthood, a mentally active life—above average education, stimulating leisure pursuits, community participation, and a flexible personality—predicts maintenance of mental abilities into advanced old age. And interventions that train the elderly in cognitive strategies can partially reverse age-related declines in mental ability. Elders who participate in continuing education through university courses, community offerings, and programs like Elderhostel are enriched by new knowledge, new friends, a broader perspective on the world, and an image of themselves as more competent.

The final psychological conflict of Erikson’s theory, ego integrity versus despair, involves coming to terms with one’s life. Adults who arrive at a sense of integrity feel whole, complete, and satisfied with their achievements, whereas despair occurs when elders feel they have made many wrong decisions. In Peck’s theory, ego integrity requires that older adults move beyond their life’s work, their bodies, and their separate identities. Joan Erikson, widow of Erik Erikson, believed that older people can arrive at a psychosocial stage she calls gerotranscendence—a cosmic, transcendent perspective directed beyond the self. Labouvie-Vief addresses the development of adults’ reasoning about emotion, pointing out that older, more psychologically mature adults develop affect optimization, the ability to maximize positive emotion and dampen negative emotion. Although researchers do not yet have a full understanding of why older people reminisce more than younger people do, current theory and research indicate that reflecting on the past can be positive and adaptive.

Older adults have accumulated a lifetime of self-knowledge, leading to more secure and complex conceptions of themselves than at earlier ages. During late adulthood, resilience is fostered by gains in agreeableness and acceptance of change. While U.S. elders generally become more religious or spiritual as they age, this trend is not universal: Some elders decline in religiosity.

In patterns of behavior called the dependency–support script and independence–ignore script, older adults’ dependency behaviors are attended to immediately, while their independent behaviors are ignored, encouraging elders to become more dependent than they need or want to be. Physical declines and chronic disease can be highly stressful, leading to a sense of loss of personal control—a major factor in adult mental health. In late adulthood, social support continues to play a powerful role in reducing stress, thereby promoting physical health and psychological well-being.

In late adulthood, extroverts continue to interact with a wider range of people than introverts and people with poor social skills. Disengagement theory, activity theory, continuity theory, and socioemotional selectivity theory offer varying explanations for the changes in the amount of social interaction in late adulthood. The physical and social contexts in which elders live affect their social experiences and, consequently, their development and adjustment. Most elders prefer to age in place, remaining in a familiar setting where they have control over everyday life, but different communities, neighborhoods, and housing arrangements (including congregate housing and life-care communities) vary in the extent to which they enable aging residents to satisfy their social needs.

The social convoy is an influential model of changes in our social networks as we move through life. Marital satisfaction rises from middle to late adulthood as perceptions of fairness in the relationship increase, couples engage in joint leisure activities, and communication becomes more positive. Most gay and lesbian elders also report happy, highly fulfilling relationships. Couples who divorce in late adulthood constitute a very small proportion of all divorces in any given year. Compared to divorced younger adults, divorced elders find it harder to separate their identity from that of their former spouse, and they suffer more from a sense of personal failure. Wide variation in adaptation to widowhood exists, with age, social support, and personality making a difference. Today, more older adults who enter a new relationship choose to cohabit rather than remarrying.

Siblings, friends, and adult children provide important sources of emotional support and companionship to elders. In addition, older adults with adult grandchildren and great-grandchildren benefit from a wider potential network of support. Although the majority of older adults enjoy positive relationships with family members, friends, and professional caregivers, some suffer maltreatment at the hands of these individuals.

Financial and health status, opportunities to pursue meaningful activities, and societal factors (such as early retirement benefits) affect the decision to retire. Retirement also varies with gender and ethnicity. Most elders adjust well to retirement. Involvement in satisfying leisure activities is related to better physical and mental health and reduced mortality. Elders who experience optimal aging have developed many ways to minimize losses and maximize gains. Social contexts that permit elders to manage life changes effectively foster successful aging.

When asked how they would like to die, most people say they want death with dignity—either a quick, agony-free end during sleep or a clear-minded final few moments in which they can say farewell and review their lives. In reality, death is long and drawn out for three-fourths of people—many more than in times past, as a result of medical advances that prolong life.

In general, dying takes place in three phases: the agonal phase, clinical death, and mortality. In most industrialized nations, brain death is accepted as the definition of death, but thousands of patients who remain in a persistent vegetative state reveal that the brain-death standard does not always solve the dilemma of when to halt treatment for the incurably ill. Because most people will not experience an easy death, we can best ensure death with dignity by supporting dying patients through their physical and psychological distress, being candid about death’s certainty, and helping them learn enough about their condition to make reasoned choices about treatment.

Most children attain an adultlike concept of death in middle childhood, gradually mastering concepts of permanence, inevitability, cessation, applicability, and causation. Experiences with death and religious teachings affect children’s understanding. While parents often worry that discussing death candidly with children will fuel their fears, children with a good grasp of the facts of death have an easier time accepting it. Adolescents often fail to apply their understanding of death to everyday life. Though aware that death happens to everyone and can occur at any time, teenagers nevertheless seek alternative views, are high risk takers, and do not take death personally. Candid discussions with adolescents can help them build a bridge between death as a logical concept and their personal experiences. In early adulthood, many people brush aside thoughts of death, perhaps prompted by death anxiety or relative disinterest in death-related issues. Overall, fear of death declines with age, reaching its lowest level in late adulthood and in adults with deep faith in some form of higher being.

According to Kübler-Ross, dying people typically express five responses, which she initially proposed as “stages”: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Rather than stages, these five reactions are best viewed as coping strategies that anyone may call on in the face of threat. A host of contextual variables—nature of the disease; personality and coping style; family members’ and health professionals’ truthfulness and sensitivity; and spirituality, religion, and cultural background—affect the way people respond to their own dying and, therefore, the extent to which they attain an appropriate death.

Although most people want to die at home, caring for a dying patient is highly demanding. Hospital dying takes many forms, each affected by the physical state of the dying person, the hospital unit in which it takes place, and the goal and quality of care. Whether a person dies at home or in a hospital, the hospice approach strives to meet the dying person’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs by providing palliative care focused on protecting the quality of remaining life rather than on prolonging life.

The same medical procedures that preserve life can prolong inevitable death, diminishing the quality of life and personal dignity. In the absence of national consensus on passive euthanasia, people can best ensure that their wishes will be followed by preparing an advance medical directive—a written statement of desired medical treatment should they become incurably ill. Although the practice has sparked heated controversy, public support for voluntary euthanasia is high; less public consensus exists for assisted suicide.

Although many theorists regard grieving as taking place in orderly phases of avoidance, confrontation, and restoration, in reality, people vary greatly in behavior and timing and often alternate between these reactions. Like dying, grieving is affected by many factors, including personality, coping style, and religious and cultural background. Circumstances surrounding the death—whether it is sudden and unanticipated or follows a prolonged illness—also shape mourners’ responses. When a parent loses a child or a child loses a parent or sibling, grieving is generally very intense and prolonged. People who experience several deaths at once or in close succession are at risk for bereavement overload that may leave them emotionally overwhelmed and unable to resolve their grief.

Preparatory steps can be taken to help people of all ages cope with death more effectively. Today, instruction in death, dying, and bereavement can be found in colleges and universities; training programs for doctors, nurses, and helping professionals; adult education programs; and even a few elementary and secondary schools.


  • Berk, Laura E. (2018). Development through the lifespan, 7th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson. ISBN: 9780134419909
    • Chapter 17: Physical and Cognitive Development in Late Adulthood
    • Chapter 18: Emotional and Social Development in Late Adulthood
    • Chapter 19: Death, Dying, and Bereavement
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