A person undergoes various development stages ranging from childhood to adulthood. In this regard, middle adulthood is a lifespan period between early and late adulthood. According to Santrock (2015), the commonly recognized age limit for this stage is between 40-45 and 60-65 years. During this time, people experience various notable changes, including developing wrinkles and fine lines due to the loss of skin elasticity. Fundamentally, the psychosocial and cognitive development models explicitly explain the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical changes arising from maintaining career satisfaction, helping the next generation, and reassessing life priorities, among other issues related to middle adulthood.
Mid-life crisis characterizes the emotional and social development in middle adulthood. Both men and women pursue undefined dreams as they reassess their children’s life priorities (Pulkkinen, 2017). The society also places the responsibility on people in mid-life, and, thus, they have to balance work with parenting to meet the social expectations. Besides, they desire to attain feelings of youthfulness and life fulfillment. As a result, individuals experience stress, and they require to develop rational strategies to cope with harmful behaviors. People who fail to control their emotions mainly come from alcohol abuse and unnecessary money spending. Consequently, middle adulthood is a demanding stage, which necessitates logical thinking and planning to avoid distress and disgraceful traits.
Additionally, cognitive and physical development starts declining in middle adulthood. Santrock (2015) argues that there is prolonged recovery from muscular strain and reduced sensory abilities of people in mid-life compared to teenagers. For example, individuals start to develop wrinkles due to skin relaxation, while muscle stamina and strength also begin to decline. In addition, there is a gradual decrease in the production of female sex hormones, such as estrogen, resulting in the cessation of the menstrual cycle. Significantly, crystallized intelligence (accumulated skills, information, and experiences) increases while fluid intellect (capacity to handle new situations) starts to reduce in middle adulthood. Therefore, this stage presents the onset of declining physical and cognitive development.
Erikson’s psychosocial development and Piaget’s cognitive theories explain trends and developments in middle adulthood. For instance, Erikson uses the generativity and stagnation steps in his model to describe the cause of stress and mental disorientation during the mid-life crisis (Pulkkinen, 2017). From the generativity perspective, individuals focus on creating and achieving goals that make the world better. However, they experience stagnation when they fail to find ways to fulfill their dreams, leading to disoriented life. On his part, Piaget reflects on the declining trend of the cognitive processing necessary to address real-world challenges (Santrock, 2015). The two theories demonstrate that middle adulthood signifies the mid-life crisis characterized by a lessened fluid intellectual ability and increased stressful situations.
I am in the middle adulthood stage, and my experience with this development step aligns with Piaget’s and Erikson’s models. I have to balance work with the parenting role, thus finding myself in situations where I do not have solutions to some existing challenges. I depend on my accumulated skills and experiences to make decisions. When I see wrinkles on my skin, I realize the responsibility placed on me by society. I feel stressed sometimes as I focus on attaining my dreams and social expectations. I think awareness of this developmental phase helps me enhance mechanisms to balance work with my social life, including parenting. As a nurse, I feel obliged to assist my clients in understanding and coping with the mid-life crisis, which can ruin their late adulthood if not well guided.
Middle adulthood is a significant developmental stage because it helps people to appreciate their responsibilities as they grow old. They reassess their dreams and plan for their children’s future. The existing knowledge about this phase assists in preparing individuals for the start of declining cognitive processes, increasing stressful circumstances, and physical changes. Therefore, people have to balance their expectations with their social responsibilities to avoid falling into a mid-life crisis, which may cause stress and other harmful behaviors, thus disorienting late adulthood life.
Pulkkinen, L. (2017). Human development from middle childhood to middle adulthood: Growing up to be middle-aged. Psychology Press.
Santrock, J. (2015). Essentials of life-span development. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.