Middle adulthood often becomes the age when people start getting concerned about their health and become more aware of their lifestyle and underlying psychological trauma consequences. Sometimes, the turning point comes too late as specific processes already need careful supervision but are mostly reversible. The social worker plays a mediator role, explaining the issue to the person and dealing with it based on various medical and psychosocial factors.
Principal Health Concerns
Middle adulthood is mainly characterized by becoming less physically active and experiencing more significant stress contributing to the person’s well-being. Smoking, drinking, dieting, and other bad habits from a younger age also reduce overall health. The metabolism slows down, and the physical strength and coordination gradually decline (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2019). Chronic diseases such as diabetes or arthritis, often occur on a bigger scale at this age. Many of these controllable factors can be changed by adopting a healthier lifestyle.
However, what many of the adults find challenging to manage is childhood trauma. Adverse childhood experiences, including physical or emotional abuse, can lead to severe health consequences in middle adulthood (Burke, 2014). The higher the ACE score is, the worse are the health outcomes. They may range from depression and antisocial behavior to lung cancer and ischemic disease (Burke, 2014). It appears to be a problem in middle adulthood as it slowly develops over time and appears in midlife (Zastrow et al., 2019). Cancer is statistically the second cause of death after heart disease. Tumorous can sometimes grow uncontrollably and be a danger to one’s life. Not only that, but the risk of engaging in unhealthy sexual behaviors also increases in adults abused in their childhood. Thus, the risk of hepatitis increases two and a half times, as well as the likelihood of getting HIV (Wilson & Widom, 2011).
Many listed health issues are predetermined by various factors, such as a person’s lifestyle, emotional awareness, and even education attainment contributing to developing diseases. Different demographic characteristics largely predispose to developing diseases. Not only overall health but also economic and education level is an HIV factor – fewer people with at least high school degrees face it (Temcheff et al., 2011). These factors can represent the difference in the general income level and the following quality of life or the societal pressure and ability to deal with experienced neglect in childhood (Burke, 2014). For heart diseases, the main factors were gender and stress response. The brain’s and body’s stress response system that governs our fight-or-flight response can be damaged in childhood age due to abuse (Burke, 2014). Children are especially sensitive to this repeated stress because their bodies are still developing. High doses of adversity not only affect brain structure and function but also affect the developing immune system and lead to cancer (Burke, 2014). There are more than 100 types of cancer, but the overall statistics show that mortality is higher among men than women, which is explained by lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking as a coping mechanism.
Social worker’s job and environmental factors
The social worker’s goal is to raise awareness about these issues among the communities and deal with them. Both physical and psychological health services are often needed to reduce the health risks, especially among middle adults who experienced abuse. Thus, social workers need to possess relevant skills and knowledge to provide qualitative care to the middle-aged population (Davis et al., 2019). Social workers need to consider these environmental factors and potential health complications as they consult the clients.
It is crucial to assess and consider various environmental and psychosocial characteristics that may determine the disease and the treatment. Treating the disease includes in-depth research on underlying conditions and treating the trauma in the first place. Certain peculiarities of the middle adulthood age group make it especially important to treat them as medical conditions usually worsen with age when the trauma is not identified and treated. Proper treatment and supervision of social workers dramatically increase the chance of healing the patients and improving their emotional and physical well-being.
Burke, N.H. (2014). How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime [Video file]. Web.
Temcheff, C. E., Serbin, L. A., Martin-Storey, A., Stack, D. M., Ledingham, J., & Schwartzman, A. E. (2011). Predicting adult physical health outcomes from childhood aggression, social withdrawal and likeability: A 30-Year prospective, longitudinal study. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 18(1), 5–12.
Wilson, H. W., & Widom, C. S. (2011). Pathways from childhood abuse and neglect to HIV-risk sexual behavior in middle adulthood. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 79(2), 236–246.
Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K. & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Biological aspects of young and middle adulthood. In Understanding human behavior and the social environment. (pp. 455-484). Cengage Learning.