Achievement in Late Adulthood Video

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  • 0:02 Late Adulthood
  • 0:53 Evaluation
  • 2:59 Achievement
  • 5:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

For young people, achievement generally centers on work and raising a family. But what happens when you're retired and your family is grown? In this lesson, we'll look at the three types of achievement in late adulthood.

Late Adulthood

Tom is 72, and he feels a bit lost. He recently retired and is at loose ends. Thinking back on his life, he can think of lots of great things he accomplished: he rose to the top of his field at work, and he was at every dance recital and baseball game that his two kids participated in.

But what's left for him now? His kids are grown, and he's retired. So, what does he have left to achieve?

Tom is in late adulthood or the time of life after age 65. During that time, many people look back on their lives and can clearly see what they have accomplished. But they also often wonder what they can do now that work and family life has passed. Let's look at how older adults evaluate their life's achievements and how achievement differs in late adulthood compared to other times in life.


Tom was a big dog at work. He started as a salesman but rose into management and eventually became the CEO of his company. Not only that, he was so successful that he wrote a book about how to run a business and was invited to speak at many different events. No one could doubt that he was a success in his working life!

In early and middle adulthood (that is, between the ages of about 20 and 65), achievement is mostly about family and work life. Tom's ascension to the top of his field is a clear achievement in his work life. Further, he was a supportive father who saw his two children grow up to be great adults. That's a great achievement in his family life.

But as people enter late adulthood, things change. Children grow up and move out on their own. Most people retire. Suddenly, achievement isn't as clear-cut as it was before. Tom knows this from personal experience: his kids are happy and successful adults, but they don't need him on a day-to-day basis anymore. He's retired and isn't the 'top dog' anymore. He's not sure what achievement in his current life should look like.

During late adulthood, most people reflect on their achievements earlier in life. Tom, for example, is able to evaluate his successes. Is he proud of his standing at work, or does he wish he had done things a little differently? This process of evaluation in older adults often leads to ego integrity, or feeling satisfied with the accomplishments of their lives.

But, like Tom, many older adults are still left with a big question: what now? Ego integrity may leave them feeling proud of their successes, but it also leaves them wondering what to do now that they are finished with work and raising a family. Retirement requires adjustment, and many adults don't just slide right into it smoothly. Instead, they are left questioning what success is like in this new phase of life.


So, what does achievement look like in late adulthood? This is a question that Tom is struggling with right now. He looks around at his friends and family members who are also retired and begins to get a sense of the types of things that they do to be 'successful' older adults. He notices three general trends.

1. Legacy

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