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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Chapter 15
Physical and Cognitive
Development in Middle Adulthood
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Middle Adulthood
 Ages 40 to 65
 Continuation of early
adulthood changes:
 time orientation
 physical
 cognitive
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Vision Changes
in Middle Adulthood
 Presbyopia: “old eyes”:
 inability to adjust focus to
varying distances
 Pupil shrinks, lens yellows,
vitreous changes:
 poor vision in dim light
 decline in color discrimination
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 Glaucoma risk
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Hearing Changes in
Middle Adulthood
Presbycusis: “old hearing”:
 initially, decline in sensitivity
to high frequencies
 gender, cultural differences:
men show earlier, more
rapid decline
 hearing aids, modifications
to listening environment,
communication can help
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Skin Changes in
Middle Adulthood
 Wrinkles:
 forehead: starting in thirties
 crow’s feet: forties
 Sagging:
 face, arms, legs
 Age spots:
 after age 50
 Faster with sun
exposure, and for women
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Muscle–Fat Makeup
in Middle Adulthood
 Middle-age spread common: fat gain
in torso:
 men: upper abdomen, back
 women: waist, upper arms
 Very gradual muscle declines
 Can be avoided:
 low-fat diet
 exercise, especially resistance training
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Anti-Aging Effects of
Calorie Restriction
 Restricted diet benefits diverse
nonprimate species:
 longer life
 reduced incidence of disease
 In primates and humans,
more years of healthy life,
not longer life
 Calorie-restriction mimetics
may yield same health
benefits as calorie restriction
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Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Skeletal Changes
in Middle Adulthood
 Bones broaden but become more
porous:
 loss in bone density
 women at greater risk
 Loss in bone strength:
 disks collapse, height shrinks
 bones fracture more easily, heal more slowly
 Healthy lifestyle can slow bone loss
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Climacteric and Menopause
 Gradual end of fertility:
 menopause follows 10-year climacteric
 age range: late thirties to late fifties
 earlier in non-childbearing women, smokers
 Drop in estrogen:
 monthly cycles shorten, eventually stop
 can cause difficulties:
 complaints about sexual functioning
 decreased skin elasticity, loss of bone mass
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Menopausal Symptoms
Linked to
menopause
Not linked to
menopause,
other causes
should be
investigated





hot flashes/night sweats
sexual difficulties
irritability
sleep difficulties
depression
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Menopause Symptoms
Around the World
Figure 15.1
(Adapted from Obermeyer, 2000; Shea, 2006.)
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Hormone Therapy
for Menopause
reduces hot flashes, vaginal dryness
 some protection against bone loss

Benefits
heart attack, stroke, blood clots
 cancer
 gallbladder disease
 Alzheimer’s and other dementias
 gabapentin, antidepressants, black
cohosh for hot flashes
 medications to prevent bone loss

Risks
Alternatives
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Reactions to Menopause
 Individual differences:
 importance of childbearing capacity, physical
attractiveness
 highly educated women usually have more
positive attitudes
 Cultural differences:
 ethnic differences in the United States: AfricanAmerican and Mexican-American women hold
especially favorable views
 SES, physical and psychological health linked
to reactions
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Reproductive Changes in Men
 Decrease in
 sperm volume, motility starting in twenties
 semen after age 40
 Gradual decline in testosterone:
 sexual activity stimulates production
 Erection difficulties:
 frequent problems may be linked to anxiety,
disease, injury, loss of sexual interest
 Viagra and other drugs offer temporary relief
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Health in Middle Age
 85% rate as excellent
or good, a decline
from early adulthood
 More chronic diseases
than in early adulthood
 Research on women
increasing
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Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Sexuality in Middle Adulthood
 Slight drop in frequency among married
couples:
 stability of sexual activity is typical
 best predictor is marital happiness
 Intensity of response declines:
 slower arousal due to climacteric
 Sex still important, enjoyable to most
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Leading Causes of Death
in Midlife, United States
Figure 15.2
(Adapted from U.S. Census Bureau, 2012.)
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Cancer in Middle Adulthood
 One-third of U.S. midlife deaths:
 more men than women
 higher in low SES
 Results from mutations:
germline or somatic
 a complex interaction of heredity
and environment contributes
 Often curable; survival
brings emotional challenges
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Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Cardiovascular Disease
 Responsible for 25% of
middle-aged deaths
 “Silent killers”:
 high blood pressure,
cholesterol
 atherosclerosis
 Symptoms:
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 heart attack (blockage)
 arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
 angina pectoris (chest pain)
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Osteoporosis
 Severe bone loss, fragile bones
 Causes:
 normal aging:
 with age, bones more porous, lose bone
mass
 menopause estrogen drop speeds loss
 heredity, body build
 lifestyle—diet, physical activity, smoking,
alcohol use
 Women develop osteoporosis earlier;
men often overlooked
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Preventing and Treating
Osteoporosis
 Diet:
 vitamin D
 calcium
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 Weight-bearing exercise
 Strength training
 Bone-strengthening
medications
 Early prevention
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Hostility and Health
 Type A behavior pattern:
 angry, impatient, competitive
 prone to heart disease, other health
problems
 Expressed hostility:
 angry outbursts, rudeness,
criticism, contempt
 predicts various cardiovascular
problems
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Managing Stress









Reevaluate the situation.
Focus on events you can control.
View life as fluid.
Consider alternatives.
Set reasonable goals.
Exercise regularly.
Use relaxation techniques.
Constructively reduce anger.
Seek social support.
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Coping Styles
Problem-Centered
Coping
Emotion-Centered
Coping
 Identify and appraise
problems
 Choose and
implement
potential solutions
 Internal, private
 Control distress when
the situation can’t be
changed
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Exercise in Midlife
 Physical and psychological benefits:
 stress management
 reduces disease risk
 Barriers to beginning in middle age:
time, energy, health, convenience, lack
of facilities
 Self-efficacy promotes exercise and is
augmented by it
 Activities that fit personal characteristics
 Interventions to reach low-SES adults
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Hardiness
Control
 Regard most experiences
as controllable
Commitment
 Find interest and meaning
in daily activities
Challenge
 View as normal part of life,
chance for growth
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Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Double Standard of Aging
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 Aging men rated
more positively, women
more negatively
 Influenced by media,
social messages
 Appears to be
declining, with new,
positive view of
middle age
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Fluid and Crystallized
Intelligence
Fluid
Crystallized
 Depends on basic
informationprocessing skills:
 Skills that depend on
 detecting relationships
among stimuli
 speed of analyzing
information
 working memory
 accumulated knowledge
 experience
 good judgment
 mastery of social
conventions
 Valued by person’s
culture
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Longitudinal Trends in Mental Abilities
Figure 15.3
(From K. W. Schaie, 1994, “The Course of Adult Intellectual Development,” American
Psychologist, 49, p. 308. Copyright © 1994 by the American Psychological
Association. Reprinted with permission of American Psychological Association.)
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Age-Related Slowing of
Information Processing
Neural Network
View
Information-Loss
View
 Neurons in brain die,
breaking neural
connections
 Brain forms new but
less efficient
connections
 Information lost at each
step through cognitive
system
 Whole system slows
down to inspect,
interpret information
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Attention in Middle Adulthood
 More difficulties in




multitasking
focusing on relevant information
switching attention
combining visual information into
meaningful patterns
 inhibition
 May be due to decline in processing
speed
 Experience, practice, training help
adults compensate
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Memory in Middle Adulthood
 Working memory declines from twenties to
sixties:
 reduced use of memory strategies
 slower processing, attention
difficulties
 Adults can compensate:
 self-paced tasks
 training in strategies
 Few changes in
 factual knowledge
 procedural knowledge
 metacognitive knowledge
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Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Becoming a Student in Midlife
 39% of U.S. college students are over
age 25; 60% of them are women
 Reasons are diverse:
 job changes, seeking better income
 life transitions
 personal achievement, self-enrichment
 Concerns:
 academic abilities: aging and
gender stereotypes
 role overload
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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