According to The National Institute of Open Schooling (2004), middle age is a term used to describe the period of latter twenties, into thirties and forties, and leading into late fifties. This period is characterized by increased competence, maturity, responsibility and stability. This is the e when one wants to enjoy the success of job, satisfaction derived from the family and social life. People look forward to the success of their children as attention becomes focused on health, the fate of children, aging parents, the use of leisure time and plans for old age. For women, menopause occurs between the ages of forty-
five and fifty. Menopause is typically accompanied by some distressing physical and psychological symptoms in women that also impacts middle adulthood. Men during this period, show greater concern towards their health, strength, power and sexual potency. Midlife is also viewed as a period of creativity and significant contribution to society.
Mid-life transition is something that happens to individuals typically ranging from thirties to late fifties. It is a natural process and is a normal part of maturing. These experiences at mid-life can occur naturally or result from some significant changes that are inevitably going to occur at some point along the continuum. Coming to terms with such changes can be difficult enough, but when it is complicated by mid-life transition, the process can seem bewildering and overwhelming (Huyck, 1993).
Physically middle adulthood represents a time of slowing down. Physical changes typically begin around the age of thirty and gradually increase with time. There is a slow steady decline in strength as individuals tend to have less energy, experience more fatigue, and experience a decreased tolerance for movement and exercise. There are often changes in sleep patterns, weight changes (typically weight gain), changes in eyesight (usually decreased acuity), and changes in one’s appearance such as deteriorating physique, wrinkles, graying hair and so on (O’Connor and Wolfe, 1990).
The major physical changes associated with aging are described as external changes, internal changes and changes in the sensory capacities. External changes consist of symptoms such as graying hair, aging skin, shift in posture and the development of wrinkles and other changes. Internal changes refer to the symptoms of growing old that are not outward and visible. These include the changes in the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, central nervous system and cardiovascular system. Lastly are sensory abilities that also gradually change with age. Even though individuals make use of all five senses consistently throughout their lifespan, hearing, vision and sense of smell and taste can all deteriorate with age (NIOS, 2004).
Psychologically there is often an increase in depression that often accompanies newly diagnosed medical conditions. There may also be an increased realization of mortality as most times as there is a more intense significance when loved ones pass away. Dealing with time seeming to pass much more quickly is also significant as individuals begin to wonder about whether we have lived up to our own personal expectations. Transitional periods of adulthood are necessary to personal growth and development as individuals begin to examine underlying values, assumptions, expectations, feelings, and beliefs that take place during the midlife transition (O’Connor and Wolfe, 1990).
According to The National Institute of Open Schooling (2004), aging is affected by many factors such as stress, tension, habits, undisciplined life, poor health work habits and more. Leading a disciplined life means giving the body enough time to rest, proper work habits, less tensions, proper nutrition and spirituality. Some basic effective coping strategies include incorporating strategies such as following a well balanced diet, eating healthy, exercising regularly, reducing stress, stop smoking, and drinking alcohol or caffeine, and other drugs, maintain a positive sense of self and develop the powers of faith and spirituality.
More specifically, individuals can develop an attitude of flexibility to reduce stress with pressures and age related problems. Individuals can recognize that one has to explore new ways of coping and adjust with changing life events. It is also helpful to make greater use of information seeking and of problem solving strategies rather than withdrawing or isolating. A healthy balance of self-confidence, self-reliance and recognizing personal strengths and weaknesses can be beneficial to both social and emotional well-being. And finally, learn and maintain effective coping skills and adopting an active approach towards the environment to effective making healthy adjustments in old age.
Parents Resource Center (2004) outlines ten ways to cope with the overall transition of aging including to accept and share your feelings with others, accept that aging is inevitable, allow yourself to grieve losses, express your fears and frustrations, regularly spend time thinking about your life, rediscover your spouse as a friend and lover, spend time each week away from children and distractions, set new goals which are both realistic and exciting, try new things, travel, do new activities, spend special time each week with your children, speak to a therapist or join a self-help group, improve your nutrition and health, and see your doctor for a complete exam. And finally, to embrace your journey.
Huyck, Margaret H. (1993). Middle Age. Academic American Encyclopedia, 13, 390-391.
National Institute of Open Schooling (2004). Retrieved on April 14, 2004 @http://www.nos.org/course.mat/html
O’Connor, D.J. & Wolfe, D.M. (1990). Crisis and growth in midlife: Changes in personal paradigm. Human Relations, Vol.40, Number 12, 1987, pp. 799-816.
Parent Resource Center (2004). Mid life crisis. Retrieved February 15, 2004 @ http://www.learnwhatsup.com/prc/health/adult/mid-life.html
Ragan, Mary (2004). Mid-Life: Change, Transition and Re-Definition
Pressier, D. (1997). Physical development and health in middle age. [Electronic version] Retrieved on April 13, 2004 @ http://www.mc.maricopa/d46/psy/dev/index.html – life