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decorative star graphic  Late Adulthood:
Biosocial Development
- Primary Aging -

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  • The universal & irreversible physical changes that occur to living creatures, as they grow older is called primary aging.
  • Primary aging includes all the processes of senescence.
  • Every part of the body slows down, from speech to heart rate, from speed of walking to speed of thinking, from reaction time to reading time.
  • Every body system also becomes less efficient with age, with a gradual reduction in capacity and organ reserve.

  • Appearance changes as aging occurs, such things as skin, hair, body height, body shape, and body weight.
  • The skin is often the first sign: It becomes drier, thinner, and less elastic; wrinkles and visible blood vessels and pockets of fat appear.
  • The hair also undergoes obvious changes, growing thinner and grayer and, in many people, eventually becoming white or disappearing completely.

  • Most older people are more than an inch shorter than they were in early adulthood, because the vertebrae begin settling closer together in middle age.

  • Body shape is affected by redistribution of fat, disappearing from the arms, legs, and upper face and collecting in the torso and the lower face.
  • Older adults often weigh less than they did at age 50 or so, partly because of a reduction in muscle tissue, which is relatively dense and heavy.
  • The difference in weight tends to be more noticeable in men than in women, because men have relatively more muscle and less body fat.
  • Another reason older people weigh less is a loss of bone calcium, which makes bones more porous and fragile.
  • Please note that weight reduction is usually not good
  • Social connection depends primarily on the use of the senses, all of which become less sharp with each decade.
  • Although only 10 percent of the aged see well without corrective lenses, another 80 percent can see quite well with glasses and the remaining 10 percent have series vision problems.
  • Cataracts is a common eye disease among the elderly involving a thickening of the lens; it can cause distorted vision if left untreated.
  • Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that can destroy vision if left untreated. It involves hardening of the eyeball due to a fluid buildup within the eye.
  • Senile macular degeneration is deterioration of the retina that affects one in twenty-five people between the ages of 66 and 74 and one in six of those age 75 and older. This condition is hard to treat medically and is therefore the leading cause of legal blindness.

  • Presbycusis is the age-related hearing loss that affects about 40 percent of those aged 65 or older.
  • Most often presbycusis can be remedied with hearing aids.
  • Tinnitis - buzzing or rhythmic ringing in the ears experienced by 10 percent of the elderly. The only treatment at the moment is surgery, which is not always successful.
  • The hard-of-hearing is likely to withdraw socially and to suspect that inaudible conversations are about them.
  • Elderspeak is a way of speaking to older adults that resembles baby talk, It uses simple short sentences, exaggerated emphasis, & repetition. Increasing logical pauses is a good thing to do! Lower pitch is better than higher, & it should be noted slower speech that stretches out the words actually reduces comprehension.
  • Sometimes younger adults automatically use elderspeak when they talk to older adults whom they do not know. Not good!
  • Adjusting to senescence - For optimal functioning, body changes require active adjustment, not passive acceptance. Adjustment involves finding the right balance between maintaining normal activities and modifying routines to fit diminished capacities.

Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates
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