Human Development Part 2 Adulthood through Old Age
Instructor: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director: AllCEUs Counseling CEUs and Specialty Certificates
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox, Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery

Counseling CEUs can be found at AllCEUs Counseling Continuing Education

Objectives
~ Review stages of Adult Development (Erickson, Valliant, Levinson)
~ Identify biological, psychological and social issues which must be dealt with at each stage
~ Explore where stuck-points can occur and how to help people successfully resolve those issues to prevent/address depression, anxiety and/or addiction
Early Adulthood Ages 20-40
~ Physical functioning peaks at age 30, but can be maintained
~ Body shape changes with increases in fat and loss of muscle mass
~ Bodily systems begin to diminish in functioning at about 1% per year
~ Thinking becomes more practical and dialectical to adapt to inconsistencies and complexities of daily experience
~ Short term memory peaks
~ Knowledge continues to grow
~ Issues of identity and intimacy peak around age 30
~ Continued need for affiliation
~ Friendships take on more importance for those who are single
Early Adulthood Psychosocial Tasks
~ Early Adult Transition (Age 17-22).
~ Developing an Identity that allows a separation from parents
~ Choosing to go to college or enter the workforce
~ Family not supportive
~ Lack of direction
~ Difficulty with chosen task
~ Choosing to leave home
~ Difficulty with self-regulation
~ No idea how to fend for self
Early Adulthood Psychosocial Tasks
~ Early Adult Transition (Age 17-22) Passion
~ Development of Intimacy
~ Choosing to develop reciprocal relationships with another person.
~ Developing and embracing sexual identity
~ Develop effective interpersonal skills to develop healthy relationships
~ Expanding one's sense of self to include another person
~ Develop a solid identity
~ Develop healthy both/and boundaries

Early Adulthood Psychosocial Tasks
~ Entering the Adult World (Age 22-28) Enterprise
~ May start having children
~ Graduate from college / complete training
~ More concrete decisions regarding occupation, friendships, values, and lifestyles.
~ Career Consolidation. A job turns into a career once one has contentment, compensation, competence, and commitment (Valliant).
~ Includes stay at home parent or spouse (stay-at-home dad)

 

Early Adulthood Psychosocial Tasks
~ Age 30 Transitions (Age 28-33).
~ Significant lifestyle changes i.e. marriage or having children, promotions, “adulting”
~ Deal with grief/loss issues
~ All your friends are married
~ You are married with kids and can’t live the single life anymore (time and money ain’t yours)
~ Deal with anxiety/anticipation
~ What if I can’t do it?
~ What if I am alone forever?

 

Early Adulthood Psychosocial Tasks
~ Settling Down (Age 33-40) Contemplation
~ Establish a routine (can feel oppressive to some)
~ Makes progress on goals for the future
~ Reflect on a deeper meaning and purpose for their lives
Middle Adulthood 40-65
~ Bodily changes continue (wrinkles, gray hair and menopause)
~ Many people need reading glasses
~ Increased vulnerability to health and disease
~ Fluid intelligence may decline
~ Reaction time and mental processing speed slow
~ Short and long term memory remain stable
~ Cognitive abilities
~ Dependent on speed and adapting to novelty decrease
~ About the world increase and related to experience flourish (expertise)
~ Marital satisfaction may increase as children move out
~ Greatest productivity but high risk of burnout at work
~ Age discrimination becomes an issue
Middle Adulthood Psychosocial Tasks
~ Mid-Life Transition (Age 40-45).
~ Midlife crisis: Transition in sense of self and relationship to the world (Change causes crisis and crisis causes change)
~ Empty nest
~ View of what is important
~ Reflection on goal progress
~ Acceptance of aging body
~ Begin thinking about death and begin to think about leaving a legacy.
Middle Adulthood Psychosocial Tasks
~ Entering Middle Adulthood (Age 45-50). Benevolence
~ Choices are made about the future and possibly retirement.
~ Address anxiety about retirement finances
~ Commit to new tasks and think about the legacy they are leaving.
~ Generativity. This involves the unselfish will and capacity to give. For example, serving as a consultant or mentor to others would help establish generativity.
Late Adulthood 65+
~ Brain becomes smaller and functions more slowly
~ Bodily changes continue
~ Decreases in immune system
~ Short term memory may decline
~ Age related changes impact sexual functioning, but not desire
~ Philosophical or spiritual interests emerge or intensify
~ Experienced based skills, problem solving and semantic knowledge increase
~ Retirement
~ Satisfaction with life largely dependent on strength of family/social relationships
~ Bereavement for spouse/friends
~ End of life care planning to incorporate pain management and psychological support for individual and caregivers
Late Adulthood Psychosocial Tasks
~ Late Adulthood (Age 60+). Wisdom
~ Reflection on life and the decisions they have made.
~ Process loss/change of routine, socialization from retirement
~ Maintenance of friendships and family relationships
~ Becoming Keeper of the Meaning. Passing on the traditions of the past to the next generation.
~ Achieving Integrity. Achieving a sense of peace and unity with respect to one's life and to the world itself.
~ Acceptance of death as a reality

Summary
~ While adults go through fewer changes at each stage than children, these changes are qualitatively more complex
~ It is vital at each life stage to explore and address:
~ How well each task was accomplished and integrated
~ Feelings about the change (elation, anxiety, grief…)
~ Feelings about bodily changes
~ Relationship changes
~ Anxiety and depression often emerge in the 20s and 30s
~ Prevention involves
~ Educating people about what is normal and how to slow or prevent some problems
~ Ensuring they have social support
~ Helping them develop distress tolerance skills
~ Introducing the concept of dialectical thinking

References
~ Thomas Armstrong, The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life. New York: Sterling, 2008.
~ Virginia Westerberg, MD. Lifetime Human Development Milestones
~ https://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html
~ The Journey of Adulthood 5/e by Bee & Bjorklund. Pearson Education, 2004.
~ Levinson’s Stage-Crisis model