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Lifespan Research: Adolescents and the Elderly - Essay Example

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Abstract: This literature review compares lifespan research on two distinct age groups: adolescents and the elderly. The research looks at various factors of physical, cognitive, and social development and concludes that, although teens and senior adults both find themselves in developmental stages where physical changes are prevalent and cognitive ability is important, social factors have the greatest impact on the individual's well-being and state of mind.
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Download file to see previous pages Meanwhile, the elderly, having moved through all the challenges of adulthood and survived to an advanced age, deal with the concept of generativity (Ostir, Ottenbacher, & Markides, 2004; Frazier, Mintz, & Mobley, 2005): the question of whether or not they can continue to make meaningful contributions to society in their twilight years. For teens, the issues are generally internal, and depend on whether their level of maturity allows them to act in regard to their own best interest, but this ability is greatly affected by social factors. (Barry & Wentzel, 2006, Raffaeli & Crockett, 2003). For older adults, external factors, including relationships with children, spouses, and peers, tends to hold greater import (Efklides, Kalaitzidou, & Chankin, 2003; Frazier, et al., 2005).
In researching the elderly, quality of life issues tend to take precedence. Since the aging process is associated with some physical decline and often, degrees of isolation or pain (Efklides, et al, 2003; Ostir, et al., 2004; Paul, Fonseca, Martin, & Amado, 2003), much research looks at satisfaction and levels of contentedness among the elderly. In this stage of life, the question of death may loom over everything, particularly if quality of life is low (Ostir, et al., 2004). However, research shows that older adults can maintain a high quality of life if they have good social connections (Efklides, et al. 2003; Paul, et al., 2004; Frazier, Mintz, & Mobley, 2005), positive outlook (Ostir, et al., 2004), and maintain a degree of self-reliance (Paul, et al., 2003).
For adolescents, autonomy is the major struggle, but research tends to focus on the struggle not for teens to achieve their independence, but the places where their desire for independence has negative outcomes (Raffaeli & Crockett, 2003; Soenens, Vansteenkiste, Luyckx, & Goossens, 2006). In other words, while teenagers can and do find trouble if they seek it out, they are unique in that certain behaviors that may appear attractive to them are prohibited only because they are teenagers. These behaviors include drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, breaking curfews, truancy, sexual behavior, and simply defying adult expectations. These behaviors can be found in the DSM under the category of Oppositional Defiant Disorder and are only considered pathological when exhibited by minors. Less research focuses on why most teens turn out well than why a smaller percentage go wrong (Barry & Wentzel , 2006).
As we will see through an examination of these articles, although adolescents and senior adults are going through vastly different physical changes and have different cognitive abilities, they are both able to overcome the disadvantages of their physical development through the use of cognitive skills. Further, both groups depend primarily on social forces in the regulation of their psychological and physical well-being and derive the most happiness from positive interaction with family and peers..
Results-Physical Development
There is a sense of finality to the physical changes taking place in both adolescents and the elderly. For teens, the transition involves the end of childhood, and the physical ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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