Late adulthood is the stage of human development which usually begins at the age of 60 and ends with one’s death.
Having been through the vicissitudes of life, late adulthood ushers in a significant milestone for the geriatric population. Their psychosocial needs entail a broad spectrum –from focus on health; spending time with family and friends; pursuing emotional satisfaction and gratification; reflecting on life and seeking meaning; staying productive; having control on life; coping with the challenges of old age; seeking spiritual solace; to reminiscing significant memories and life events.
Considering this is the last phase of one’s life, an in-depth understanding is required so that the society can generate efforts to make this part more fulfilling and meaningful. We also provide Meditation sessions for that.
It is not only the physical and cognitive ailments that can cause distress to the geriatric population but also unmet psychosocial needs. And thus, certain theories have been put forth to better explore the latter.
As per Erik Erikson’s psychosocial stages, the eighth and the final stage that one faces during late adulthood is that of Integrity v/s Despair. If one has resolved the previous seven stages healthily then one is likely to experience satisfaction during the final stage. When the opposite happens, despair ensues. Life review i.e. looking back at experiences, evaluating and interpreting (and often reinterpreting) them is very prominent during this stage. This activity can be quiet or intense and involves personal, interpersonal and sociocultural dimensions. One can look at both the positives and negatives for a more wise and mature understanding of the life lived.
The Activity Theory states that the more active and involved one is in the society’s doings, the more satisfied one feels during late adulthood. The theory encourages continuing one’s role of middle adulthood into the late stage and to those who have been stripped of these roles (through retirement), it advises to find substituting roles.
We often find the old very vary of forming new bonds and they tend to spend more time in the fulfilling relationships already established. Thus, we see that they are selective when it comes to social networking and spend more time with the familiar to increase positive emotions. This aspect of late adulthood has been put forth by the Socioemotional Selectivity Theory.
Selective Optimization with Compensation Theory focuses on three main factors – selection, optimization and compensation. Selection is based on the idea that older adults experience a loss in their functioning and this requires them to reduce their performance in many domains (a reputed athlete may have to participate in fewer events as he/she ages). Optimization involves practicing regularly and making use of technology to stay efficient in certain areas (the athlete can spend more time practicing and making the use of certain sport-related technological aids to increase performance levels). And lastly, compensation becomes relevant when life tasks require more than one’s capacity (the athlete can exert slowly in the beginning and then gradually increase his efforts or start with increased efforts initially and then slow down, whichever works better). This theory is helpful when it comes to managing and adapting to losses.