Influences on Development in Late Adulthood

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  • 0:02 Late Adulthood
  • 1:08 Normative Changes
  • 2:23 Non-Normative Changes
  • 4:03 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.

As people age, they go through many changes, both positive and negative. In this lesson, we'll look at the major influences on development in late adulthood, including normative and non-normative change.

Late Adulthood

Gary is in his 70s, and he's still changing and growing. Some of the changes are good; he's learned how to be a good grandfather, even though he wasn't the best father in the world. He's also become very good at bridge, since he has more time to play it now than he did when he was younger.

And some of the changes aren't so good; he can't get around as well as he used to, and he's lost most of his hearing. He's also developed a tremor that doctors have diagnosed as the early stages of Parkinson's disease, a disease of the nervous system.

Gary is in late adulthood, which is the time of life after age 65. You might think that, by the time you're in late adulthood, you're pretty much done growing and learning. But adults continue to go through development, or changes and growth, right up until death.

Just look at all the changes Gary is going through. From becoming a bridge champion to learning how to deal with Parkinson's disease, he is developing every day.

Let's look closer at two types of change that influence a person's development in late adulthood: normative and non-normative change.

Normative Changes

Gary is growing and changing as a person. He's learned social skills, like patience, which makes him a better grandfather. He's had to deal with physical changes, like a loss of mobility. All in all, Gary is not the same person he was ten or 15 years ago!

Some of the changes that Gary has gone through are normative changes, or development that occurs in a set pattern and to the majority of people.

For example, Gary's lost a lot of his hair, and what's left of it is white. He's experiencing problems getting around and has lost much of his hearing. All of these are normative changes. They happen to most people as they age, and they happen in a predictable way. Gary didn't just lose all his hair one day; it happened slowly over time.

Aging is full of normative changes. From the physical changes that Gary's experiencing to changes in the way the brain functions, people often develop in predictable patterns that closely mirror much of the population. Think about Gary playing bridge. The more he plays, the better he gets. This is true of almost everyone, and it happens in a set way, so it is a normative change.

Non-Normative Changes

But what about change that doesn't follow a predictable pattern, or happen to the majority of people?

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