Life Span Human Development “Late Adulthood and End of Life” Essay Paper
Right from conception to the day of death, a human’s life is constantly developing and changing. However, most of these changes and developments are solely caused by the diverse stages we go through as human beings. The development stages are purely determined by biological and sociological heritage encountered by human beings. Psychologists have developed various ways through which individuals can eliminate the negative consequences of aging. Death and dying during different levels of human development have diverse views. Immense interest has always been associated with death and dying (Corr & Nabe, 2005). Different cultures have varied views about death and dying. According to philosophers, understanding the reality of death and the impacts on mans’ life; comprehension of the fears associated with death, enables people to live their lives fully. However, the American society does not believe in the reality of death; leading to confusion among people on issues of death.
Keywords: death and dying, ageism, aging.
Life Span Human Development “Late Adulthood and End of Life”
Right from conception to the day of death, a human’s life is constantly developing and changing. However, most of these changes and developments are solely caused by the diverse stages we go through as human beings. The development stages are purely determined by biological and sociological heritage encountered by human beings. There are various developmental stages in the life of a human being which need to be addressed with great care so as to mitigate the negative effects associated with aging. As we age, there are various advancements that occur in us. For instance, we are able to properly use our bodies, develop relationships, communicate and work as well as experience love. The importance of possessing adequate knowledge on ageism and stereotypes associated with it cannot be overemphasized. This is due to the fact that the unfolding of human development lifespan is the base of our problems in life. There have been widespread views on death of human beings during various points of development. As such, religious and cultural perspectives have had different views about human development and death. Nevertheless, human life can be likened to journey where one moves from one point to another, facing various challenges and moments of joy distinct from others’.
Promoting health and wellness during late adulthood can be very helpful in the mitigation against negative impacts of aging. It is considered that late adulthood starts at the age of 65 years. According to experts, this stage of life can be made a lively one if individuals obtain satisfaction and meaning in life rather than disillusionment and bitterness (Miller, 2008). Similarly, people within this age bracket are advised to develop a resolution between integrity versus despair which is always in conflicts throughout ones life. Statistics has shown that about 20% of the American population is composed of people aged 65 years and above. Moreover, further studies have demonstrated that with the improved modern medical technology, there is likelihood that longer lives can be attained artificially. Furthermore, it has been proved that longevity of life is not always associated with physical and mental deterioration.
Psychologists have developed various ways through which individuals can eliminate the negative consequences of aging. For example, there are two theories that have been associated with successful aging: activity theory and disengagement theory. The former relates to the fact that as people age, their involvement in the normal societal activities is advisable due to the relief from difficult responsibilities. Consequently, opportunities are opened up for the younger people leading to better benefits to the society (Miller, 2008). The latter theory contradicts the former. It emphasizes that for better adjustment to aging, earlier activities of life should be maintained. Moreover, the proponents of the theory argue that being active ensures maintenance of the normal quality of life. In addition, maintenance of activity of a complete whole: physical, mental and social, prevents negative impacts of aging.
Ageism is discrimination based on age. This form of discrimination is apparent in all ages but mostly applies towards the older people. Due to this kind of prejudice, older people are compelled to retire even though they still feel fit to continue working. Ageism is associated with various stereotypes about older people. There is no particular truth associated with stereotypes and ageism. For instance, when a person makes a remark such as, “He drives like a little old lady”, they are making a stereotype that may not have reasonable truth. While it may be true for an elderly lady to do most of her things slowly, there are others that do not have issues with speed. In fact, they may be faster than most of people several years younger (Nelson, 2004).
Scientists have proved that the peak of ones physical strength as well as endurance is attained during the twenties. Thereafter, a decline ensues though at different rates depending on individuals. When one attains the late adulthood age, diverse physiological alterations may occur. Additionally, some level of brain atrophy may occur coupled with decreased neural process rates. Other numerous body changes such as decreased efficiency of the circulatory and respiratory rates and change of the gastrointestinal system occur during old age and they have profound impacts. Similarly, diminish of the bone mass particularly on women may lead to complications like osteoporosis. Other myths and stereotypes on aging include the believe that older people are senile, that the five senses are repressed during old age, that older people have no capacity and interest in sex, that most older people have a feeling of misery most often, that about 10% of aged live in long-stay institutions, that there is tendency towards being religious during old age, that old people are poor learners and during old age illnesses are bound to increase. The number of myths and stereotypes is somewhat inexhaustible. However, the fact is that these myths do not apply on all old people (Nelson, 2004).
Death and dying during different levels of human development have diverse views. Immense interest has always been associated with death and dying (Corr & Nabe, 2005). Innumerable views have been given by different people on the concept of death and dying. However, the society has played a central role in shaping the perceptions of the people towards death and dying during different stages of human development. From time to time, there have been changing attitudes about death. Besides the usual attitude of fear concerning death, other attitudes have emerged in the recent times. During the process of human development, changes occur on the view of death and dying. For instance, during birth, one does not have an idea of what death is. However, this changes as one advance in age. Similarly, views concerning death are varied during different stages of human development. For instance, death of a child may be regarded very inappropriate due to the loss of an unexploited human being (Corr & Nabe, 2005). Similarly, if one dies during the Middle Ages, it may be regarded as an intense loss due to the resources used on the person who does not benefit the society. Finally, when a person dies during old age, it may not be regarded as intense as the society has derived some benefits from them.
Different cultures have varied views about death and dying. According to philosophers, understanding the reality of death and the impacts on mans’ life; comprehension of the fears associated with death, enables people to live their lives fully. However, the American society does not believe in the reality of death; leading to confusion among people on issues of death. During the medieval days, people are said to have had a natural approach on death. This is contrary to the today’s technology age where the western people have been separated from the reality of their biology. Consequently, there has been an obscurity of death realities. Different cultural perspectives about death and dying relate to care accorded to the dead, the life after and body disposal (Corr & Nabe, 2005). There are rituals performed during these times depending on culture such as cremation as in Hindu, sky burial as in Tibet and mummification in other cultures.
Humans go through various stages during their lifetime. Various developments are attained before old age. Old age can be made more interesting though maintenance of proper focus on health and wellness. Myths and stereotypes about old age lead to prejudice on the old. Cultural variability has led to diversity on concepts of death and dying.
Corr, C.A. & Nabe, C.M. (2005). Death and Dying: Life and Living. New York, NY: Wadsworth.
Miller, C.A. (2008). Nursing for wellness in older adults. New York, NY: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Nelson, T. (2004). Ageism: Stereotyping and Prejudice Against Older Persons. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.