Features of Late Adulthood and Death

Late adulthood typically describes the period from the sixties or seventies until death. During this period there are many physical and psychosocial changes and adjustments that take place in the individual life and that of their families or caregivers (Dr. Preisser, 1997). With the improvements in medicine and the advances in science and technology people are living longer. People have also been encouraged to exercise and eat more healthy foods. These life style changes along with the advances in medicine have made the need for caring for the elderly more important.

Families have to consider how to prepare for caring for the elderly financially and physically since they are living longer. In this paper the challenges and opportunities that face families as they care for the elderly and prepare for their death will be discussed. Changes in Late adulthood Old age has frequently shown to be related to multiple psycho-social losses and increased health risks qualifying late adulthood as a period of decline with regard to objective quality of life (Schilling, 2006). During the period of late adulthood the body is unable to replace cells to replace the once that are dying or fail to function properly.

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This leads to many physical, psychological and cognitive changes. Some of the changes more common in this stage of life are cardio-vascular diseases, malfunctioning digestive system, depression, impaired memory, impaired vision, impaired hearing and significant decline in energy levels. Some changes are seen easily such as the greying of the hair, a gradual slowdown in speech and slowing movements. In adulthood the skin is also less elastic, thin and dry due loss of skin tissues that cannot be replaced at this stage.

People in late adulthood stage of life tend to have slower response speeds, some are not able to think and respond quickly enough to changing situations. In this stage of life the ability to see and use patterns to solve problems and make decisions decline. Dementias are the major causes of cognitive problems encountered by people in late adulthood. Not all older adults who suffer from memory loss is as a result of dementia as it is estimated that only 14% of seniors that were studied and had their medical records reviewed showed signs of dementia (Berger, 2010).

Alzheimer disease is one of the most feared dementia and it is estimated that it affects about 20 million people world-wide (Berger, 2010). As individuals age, it is not always the case that culture effects on cognitive processes magnify, despite many additional years of exposure to the culture. Neurobiological decline in cognitive function that occurs with age is a cognitive universal and can limit the strategies used in late adulthood, resulting in more similarity in cognitive function in late adulthood across cultures than is observed in young adulthood (Park, Nisbett, Hedden, 1999).

Ageism and stereotypes Ageism is defined as the discrimination to the elderly as a result of their age. Older people are particularly vulnerable to this type of discrimination. This leads to unfavorable treatment of the elderly like forcing them to retire or that they are incapable of functioning as rational adults. Ageism is the tendency to categorize people solely on the basis of chronological age. It is considered a social disease much like racism and sexism; it considers people as part of a category instead of individuals with their own unique abilities and needs (Berger, 2010).

Elders play important roles in the society as care givers, guardians, leaders, teachers and culture bearers. Most are independent, providing for themselves and serves as care givers for the young and the old (Berger, 2010). Only the oldest-old need ongoing care so to classify all elderly people as a group without any regard for their abilities and cognition is wrong and leads to abuse and improper care of the elderly. Adults are living longer and have the ability to take care of themselves due to improvements in medicine, lifestyle.

They are more healthy and able to carry out most of their normal life duties themselves, this is one reason why ageism is a destructive practice and can lead to depression in late adulthood. Health and wellness Due to senescence there is an abundance of chronic diseases and illnesses that are more prevalent in late adulthood. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) which involves the heart and circulatory system is thought of as a secondary aging because it is more risk-related than age related (Berger, 2010).

Risk factors that contribute to this condition are high blood pressure, smoking diabetes, lack of exercise and high cholesterol (Berger, 2010). Healthy habits including nutrition are of utmost importance to the body in all stages of life especially in late adulthood. As people get older their bodies do not digest food as easily therefore it is important to ensure they have a balanced and healthful meal. Foods that are deficient in folic acid, vitamin B and vitamin B12 in particular can lead to impaired cognition (Berger, 2010).

Ensuring the body is fully hydrated can prevent problems with cognition and improves the appearance of the body also. Just like nutrition is important it is also crucial that people in late adulthood have an exercise routine. This will help in the prevention of diseases such as CVD, arthritis, and high cholesterol. Exercise is one way of compressing morbidity and one study shows moderate and regular exercise adds about two to five disability free years. Relationships and social interactions

During late adult hood it is important people develop and maintain good relationships, this is a source of strength and joy. When people are involved in in a friendship or a relationships they tend to live longer and healthier lives than those who do not (Berger, 2010). People in Late adulthood are becomes very interdependent on each other over time, the learn how to give and take to make the partnership of the friendship work. People in late adulthood do have sexual relationships but this is not as important to them as the need for companionship and a lasting relationship with their partners.

Social relationships in late adulthood are important as it gives elders an opportunity to share with others, to talk about their past and share experiences with the young. Having the family close and the grand children talking and sharing with the elderly is one way of communicating values and traditions in the family or community. Studies have shown that older adults needs at least one friend, this could be a spouse, a family member or a friend with similar interest (Berger, 2010). Attitudes about death

In adulthood there is a major shift in the mindset about death, rather than being risk takers and indulging in activities that are considered dangerous adults become more conservative. They take much less risk and are not likely to choose dangerous situations that may result in death (BOOK). Adults are less likely to accept the death of others even if the others are ready to die (Berger, 2010) . How people react to death is largely influenced by their own moral beliefs, culture and traditions.

For people who believe in life after death, the prospect of dying and going to a better place may give them hope and reduce the fear of death. Religion and spiritual rites are important for everyone at death, people seek to return to their religious origins and in some cases adults even request their bodies or ashes be returned to their place of birth. People in all religion, cultures and faith want what is known as a good death. They want to die peaceful, quick, with loved ones, without pain, and without confusion or discomfort.

The older a person is the more likely it is for them to accept that death is inevitable. The older person is more likely to make specific request how their remains are to be dealt with, make a will and ensure that the proper arrangements are in place for their final journey. Cultural and traditional practices will influence the way these plans are made and how the death is dealt with in the family and community. If people who are dying are treated fairly and give information they will more likely move from a stage of denial to one of accepting that death is inevitable.


  1. Berger, K.S. (2010) Invitation to the life span. New York : Worth Publishers Dr. Preisser, . (1997). developmental pyscology. Retrieved from http://www. mesacc. edu/dept/d46/psy/dev/Spring00/lateadult/index. html
  2. Schilling, O. (2006). Development of life satisfaction in old age: Another view on the “paradox”. Social Indicators Research, 75(2), 241-241-271. doi:10. 1007/s11205-004-5297-2
  3. Park, D. C. , Nisbett, R. , & Hedden, T. (1999). Aging, culture, and cognition. The Journals of Gerontology, 54B(2), P75-P75-84. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/210091198? accountid=35812

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Features of Late Adulthood and Death. (2019, May 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/late-adulthood/