I. Physical Development in Middle Adulthood
A. The Double Standard
Middle adulthood > begin to be aware of gradual
changes in body that marks the aging process.
Characterized by variations
Better educated, more productive than a generation
ago. (Starts later, lasts longer.) Most educated, most
Double standard in terms of appearance?
B. Biological changes (senescence)
Bio functions decline
Sarcopenia – age-related loss of muscle mass and
exercise reduces the decline
Cartilage and connective tissue becomes less
joint stiffness and difficulty in movement
skin begins to wrinkle and sag
areas of pigmentation in skin produce age spots
B. Biological changes (cont’d)
Women 2X the rate of bone loss
Bones break more easily and heal more slowly
Ht reaches a max during mid/ late teens to
early 20’s; remains stable until ~ 55.
After ~ 55, bones become less dense; women
lose ~2 inches; men lose ~1 inch in ht. Up to 4
Women more prone to declining height due to
lack of calcium
lack of exercise.
Curve in the back
C. The Senses
Presbycusis – Conductive
~10% at 50
~50% at 75
There will be large
More men than women
Men lose sensitivity earlier
D. Reaction time
Reaction time increases due to slight loss of muscle;
slower NS processing
A. Chronic health complaints
Death rate between 40 and 60 is less than half
of what it was in 1940
B. Ethnic and Gender Variations in Health
Differences in health among blacks and whites
disappear when holding SES constant.
Gender also makes a difference in health.
E.g., Arthritis more common
in men < 45;
in women > 45
Disability & Income Level
Why are workers living in poverty more likely to become
disabled than those with higher income levels? 15-11
C. Stress in Middle Adulthood
Stress continues to significantly impact health during
E. Heart Disease in Middle Adulthood
A) Modifiable Factors B) Non Modifiable Factors
Stress • Increasing age
High Cholesterol • Male
• Family History
Low HDL Cholesterol
Lack of Exercise
High Blood Pressure
Overweight or obesity
Type A personality/
H. Cancer in Middle Adulthood
Cancer is associated with several risk factors.
Genetics (family history)
Poor nutrition, smoking, alcohol, sunlight, exposure to radiation,
occupational hazards (e.g., certain chemicals)
With early detection (and sometimes without), survival rate
is VERY high for most forms of cancer
E.g., breast cancer: 81% for < 45 years old; 45-64: 85%; > 65: 86%
Incidence of breast cancer increases with age:
By 30 > 1 out of 2,212
By 50 > 1 out of 54
By 70 > 1 out of 14
Ever > 1 out of 7 (13%)
Psychological Factors Related to Cancer
Close family ties
Group therapy reduces anxiety and
pain; increases survival rates.
A + psychological outlook >
tendency to adhere to a strict
A + psychological outlook may
boost the body's immune system.
Female Climacteric & Menopause
Female Climacteric –transition from being able to bear children to being
unable to do so. ~ 45. The transition lasts ~15-20 years.
Perimenopause – changes in hormones beginning about 10 years prior to
Menopause = cessation of menstruation for 1 year
Irregular periods for a couple of years
Drop in Estrogen and Progesterone production
Side effects vary
Racial and ethnic differences.
~Half of women have few, if any, symptoms
III. Cognitive Development
Results are complicated because many IQ
tests include a physical performance
Results may be due to physical changes
not cognitive changes
Cross-sectional studies - older people scored worse
than younger people on traditional IQ tests.
“Intelligence peaks at 18,
stays steady until mid-20s,
and declines till end of life.”
Crystallized or fluid? [next]
Most people show only minimal losses, and many
exhibit no memory loss in middle adulthood.
Sensory memory and ST memory > no decline in middle
Some decline in middle age.
Storage is less efficient.
A reduction in efficiency
Effective strategies stave off