Human growth and development is something that has remained a favorite subject among theorists and psychologists. Human development and growth is a field worth studying because it incorporates a wide range of aspects ranging from emotional, moral, social, cognitive and physical development, all of which have great significant in human character (Berk, 2009). This paper will therefore reflect on most of the developmental theories and apply them in discussing the major collective changes that human beings experience from early adulthood to midlife, from midlife to late adulthood, and from late adulthood to our final days of life.
Theories of Adult Development
Adulthood is the most defining stage of human development. Different societies have different ages and limits determining when a person should be declared an adult and responsible for his own decisions and actions. For instance, the traditional Jews believed that at the age 13 a person was aware of what was going around in his/her life and thus there was the need to label that individual an adult. Currently, majority of societies believe that a child has come of age and mature at the age of eighteen. After attaining such an age, it has been possible to treat such a person as an adult, and similarly offering the best practices (Jean, 2009).
A number of theories have been analyzed and proposed in adulthood. Most of the early adulthood theories have significantly viewed a young adult as a person whose cognitive and physical attribute is undergoing constant change. Such theories have been adopted in explaining the behavioral and cognitive changes during the age bracket. By constantly reviewing such theories and understanding the development patterns, it can very easily be possible to address most of the problems facing such individuals and by so doing make sure they lead a better life (Berk, 2009). During early adulthood, the available theories view the individuals as people who are yet trying to search the truth by defining what appears right or wrong to them, and also trying to find a reality about life. These individuals are the ones who should be guided and helped by physiologists and other theorists so that they do not mess in their lives or make premature decisions capable of affecting their lives.
Middle adulthood is the immediate stage after early adulthood. During this stage of development, a person has developed appropriate qualities and faculties, and is also willing associate with others and do anything constructive for the entire society. Most of the middle adulthood theories have been reexamined in order to sufficiently understand the varying developments and behavioral patterns portrayed by different people during their middle adulthood (Rose, 2009). Generally, this stage is very defining in a person’s life and greatly determines whether a person succeeds or fails in his life.
Finally we have late adulthood which is another significant stage of human development. Late adulthood theories have been widely explored and studied to understand why many people change during this stage of life. According to such theories, the cognitive, intelligence, emotional, and social competencies tend to decline thereby impacting on the person’s behavior and willingness to solve most of the things faced. This has made the theories very important because they can be used to explain the individuals’ perspective towards death and dying, and how this greatly affects their general performance in life.
Human development is quite complex and plays a huge role towards human growth. Human growth is characterized by three major stages: early growth, adulthood, and old age. However, different developmental patterns have been established and identified depending on a number of factors such as personal growth patterns (Meggitt, 2006). Adulthood begins at the age of eighteen years, and continued to middle adulthood, which is also known as the prime age, and finally late adulthood commonly characterized by aging. During these stages of adulthood, it should be observed that complex developments take place because adulthood is a tremendous experience.
According to human developmental theorists, growth in human beings is grouped in four major developmental patterns: physical, cognitive emotional and social development (Meggitt, 2006). These developments play a huge role in determining behavioral, physical and cognitive abilities of different individuals. To begin with, the most notable change is physical development (Rose, 2009). As the term suggests, physical development results from the ongoing changes in the body mass and biomass of an individual. During early physical development, the body of a considerable size and increased in mass towards middle adulthood. Eventually, the late adulthood stage is specifically characterized by reducing body size due to aging process. This developmental change is very significant because it makes the individual capable of accomplishing tasks and duties which are significant to the given stage.
We cannot talk of human development changes without mentioning cognitive development. This is the most critical development since it governs all the others. For instance, at early stages of growth, human beings have low cognitive abilities (Meggitt, 2006). As a result, such individuals are incapable of making outstanding or defining decisions regarding what might be affecting them. As one develops to middle adulthood, the cognitive are better formed thereby making it possible for the individual to address the major issues faced and also make defining decisions regarding life. Closer towards late adulthood, a sudden shift in cognitive development is observed. This means that the person has reduced cognitive abilities. This is caused by aging since it weakens the person’s intelligentsia and ability to decide between what appears viable, and what is wrong.
Social development is another important thing in human growth and development. Theorists argue that humans are social beings, and cannot live without one another. Human interaction is something that plays a huge role in the society, and also defines other activities undertaken by such people. During early adulthood, a person constantly understands the major concepts governing life, and slowly by slowly becomes accustomed to the major societal structures affecting him (Meggitt, 2006).
During middle adulthood, a person developed good social skills and can successfully interact with other people in the society and also address all challenges faced. Since human beings are social beings, social development is something that has widely been studied by scholars and sociologists in order to understand how better human interactions can be promoted during early, middle and even with late adulthood. Towards late adulthood, the development slows down and the individual is not willing to interact with people. However, this is something intrinsic and beyond the control of the individual.
Just like the other forms of development from early to late adulthood, emotional development is something that has widely been investigated and studied by theorists and behaviorists. Emotional aspects revolve around the personal decisions and manifestations portrayed by individuals regarding human interactions and response (Berk, 2009). This is commonly known as human emotions, and can either be helpful or hazardous depending on how they have been developed. During early adulthood, an individual is accumulating to himself the best emotional skills which appear to favor his life, and this continues towards middle adulthood. At this stage a person’s emotional stand can be explored to determine how his development took place (Berk, 2009). As one ages, his emotional abilities weaken and can easily get embarrassed or disappointed because of the reduced inability to act and resist some peculiar emotional triggers.
Death is final when it comes to life. Although different people view death differently, the most acknowledgeable thing is that most of the fear death since it leads to the end of human life cycle. During the cause of life, people have a lot of contemplations and assumptions regarding death and how it is the most discouraging and feared experience in human’s life. Most of the events in life determine a lot towards experiences towards death and dying. During the process and stages of life, death presents a scaring thought which greatly affects the experiences people have towards the end of the life cycle (Berk, 2009).
As well, majority of people are always convinced that death is painful and think that it would be better if they were not forced through such a process. From different studies, it has been observed that many people have always been concerned with death than the process of dying itself. This has widely been discussed by many people around the globe depending on who they view the process (Jean, 2009). This is because death is something that requires people to employ acceptance, and maximum involvement. A number of structural analyses have revealed that discussions about death have always remained common and frequent.
In the course of life, it should be acknowledged that the lifespan perspectives towards death vary, and also change significantly. For example, people tend to view death differently at different ages, and the though becomes more daunting with age. This means that an older age presents more concerns and thoughts regarding death and dying. Because of this, researchers have been widely concerned about dying and how it affects people’s views and attitudes towards the same (Jean, 2009). Therefore, different individuals possess complex yet varied views on death and dying. All the same, every single individual comes up with means and ways of preparing himself towards this unavoidable yet scaring path of life.
The issue of death and dying has been widely studied and analyzed in the historical developments of the world. Even during the Biblical time, many people were still amazed and confronted with the same question but no one has ever found a fulfilling answer to the same issue. The experience on death and dying especially when they occur to a close member of the family causes more worries and arguments regarding death and its nature towards mortality. Because of this, such experiences tremendously impact on human life expectancy. For instance, many people realize that everything would be vanity and the reason their view of life changes tremendously and they become occupied with thoughts regarding death and dying. By so doing they fail to address other issues and perspectives towards life in particular (Berk, 2009).
Because of the complexity connected to the dying experience and the perspectives held by different individuals towards the same, many people always make sure they have made appropriate arrangements as they prepare themselves towards this inevitable path of life (Jean, 2009). From childhood, to adulthood, and to old age, it is the final stage of dying and death which presents the most painful and threatening experience to humanity and the reason it has been widely examined keenly by psychologists, philosophers and even religious leaders.
Normal vs. Pathological Aging
Aging is caused by accumulation of lipofusin in the body, and thereby forms a normal pattern of human development. It is usually better to develop a normal aging pattern rather than pathological one. Pathological aging is caused by disease and other external factors. In order to make sure the aging process is normal and in order, there is always the need to make sure proper measures have been undertaken by the individual. There are a number of commonly advocated preventive measures which should be undertaken to age normally. The first preventive measure is diet consideration. Proper eating and diet consideration is very significant because it determines how the body resists the aging process caused by the environmental factors (Berk, 2009). As well, proper dietary intake has been observed to promote the body’s defense mechanism thereby making it possible to get rid of some major diseases which increase the aging process.
Another relevant preventive measure is exercising. Proper exercising is one of the most significant approaches which can significantly promote body development and resistant to some common intrusions and diseases. By so doing, a person who exercises frequently will definitely slow down the process of aging. As a result a normal aging will be attained by the individual. Generally, every person should avoid all practices and other behaviors which can speed up the aging process. For example, overworking is one of the major causes of fast aging (Warhurst, 2008).
A number of risky behaviors have been observed to promote aging. Some of these include lack of exercises, poor dietary intake, poor management of sleep, and thinking heavily (Warhurst, 2008). It has also been recommended that every individual should avoid any stressful occasions or thoughts because they definitely speed up the aging process. All these are risky behaviors which have been observed to promote aging (Jean, 2009). If they are avoided, and also avoiding the use of chemicals and drugs such as bang, cocaine, and smoking, a person can definitely live a longer life because the aging process will be normal and very natural.
The implications for the future are very simple: every individual should understand how a better life can be achieved by adequately avoiding all risk factors which might promote the aging process. Currently, many people fail to get at the age of seventy due to poor lifestyles which compromise their health. This results in pathological developments therefore increasing the rate of aging. Different aging models and theories have been observed to explain how aging takes place, and how it can be managed by practicing healthy lifestyles. From this study, we have therefore observed that the journey to adulthood is very tremendous and presents very many challenges. It is therefore necessary that every individual gets prepared and adopts the best practices which will make life enjoyable and also promote a normal aging process.