Development in Late Adulthood

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Daniel Levinson depicts the late adulthood period as those years that encompass age 65 and beyond. Other developmental psychologists further divide later adulthood into young-old (ages 65–85) and old-old (ages 85 and beyond) stages. Today, 13 percent of the population is over the age of 65, compared with 3 percent at the beginning of this century. This dramatic increase in the demographics of older adulthood has given rise to the discipline of gerontology, or the study of old age and aging. Gerontologists are particularly interested in confronting ageism, or prejudice and discrimination against older adults.
Aging inevitably means physical decline, some of which may be due to lifestyle, such as poor diet and lack of exercise, rather than
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For instance, an elderly lifelong pianist may continue to exhibit incredible finger dexterity at the keyboard, but may at the same time find that taking up needlepoint as a hobby is too difficult.
Although the average life expectancy is 79 for females and 72 for males, older adulthood can easily extend 20 years or more beyond these figures. As older adults age, most report increasing health problems. Even so, only about 5 percent of adults over age 65 and 25 percent of those over age 85 live in nursing homes, foster care (where elderly people live with a family licensed by the state to care for aging adults), or other long-term care facilities. With medical advances and continued improvements in health-care delivery, the older population is expected to increase in its numbers and report better health. Estimates are that within the next 30 years, one out of every five Americans will be an older adult. Although most older adults have at least one chronic health problem, such ailments need not pose limitations on activities well into the adults ' 80s and beyond. The most common medical concerns during older adulthood are arthritis and rheumatism, cancer, cataracts of the eyes, dental problems, diabetes, hearing and vision problems, heart disease, hypertension, and orthopedic injuries. Because the elderly are at greater risk of losing their balance and falling, hip fractures and breakages are particularly common and dangerous in
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