LifeSpan Development -Psychology side. 'Discuss some of the Psychological Changes that Occur During Old Age.'

Essay by AlibabeA, January 2003

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In order to discuss some of the psychological changes that occur during old age, we must first define what we mean by 'Psychological Change' and then look at what is meant by 'Old Age', how do we define it? Then I will go on to look at these changes and view them froma positive and negative viewpoint.

'Psychology is formally defined as the scientific study of the behaviour of individuals and their mental processes....'(ZIMBARDO,1992). So psychological change happens as we develop through our lifespan, which includes cognitive changes, for example memory, intelligence. So we will look at these as well as changes that occur when faced with a significant life event, for example, retirement or death of a spouse. How do these occurences affect are self-esteem and are self-concept in old age.

Defining who is old is not straightforward, Kastenbaum distinguishes between chronological, biological, subjective and functional/social age, which are typically different for the same individual.

Society tends to stereotype everyone over a certain chronological age as 'the same' ignoring the variability between them, and considerable changes occur during the decades from 60 onwards. For the purpose of this essay we will take 'old age' to mean, anyone over 60 years old.

If age is an important part of our self-concept and if society generally seems to value 'younger' much more positively than 'older', then how old or young we perceive ourselves as being is going to have a significant affect on how we value ourselves(ie, our self-esteem). Robert Kastenbaum in,'Growing Old -Years of Fulfilment'(1979), has devised a questionnaire called 'The Ages of Me', that assesses how we see ourselves at the present moment in relation to our age. The range of individual differences between people in their 60's and above is probably as great as that between children and...