Middle age

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Middle age is the period of age beyond young adulthood but before the onset of old age.[1] The exact range is disputed; some sources place middle adulthood between the ages of 45 and 65.[2][3][4] This phase of life is marked by gradual physical, cognitive, and social changes in the individual as they age.

Middle adulthood[edit]

This time span can be referred to as "middle age" and can be defined as the time between ages about 45 and about 65.[2][3][4][5] Many changes may occur between young adulthood and this stage.[6][7]

The body may slow down and the middle aged might become more sensitive to diet, substance abuse, stress, and rest. Chronic health problems can become an issue along with disability or disease. Approximately one centimeter of height may be lost per decade.[6] Emotional responses and retrospection vary from person to person; for example, a sense of mortality, sadness, or loss are common emotions at this age.[8]

Those in middle adulthood or middle age continue to develop relationships and adapt to the changes in relationships. These changes are highly evident in the maturing relationships between growing/grown children and aging parents. Community involvement is fairly typical of this stage of adulthood,[8] as well as continued career development.

Physical characteristics[edit]

Middle-aged adults may begin to show visible signs of aging.[6] This process can be more rapid in women who have osteoporosis. Changes might occur in the nervous system. The ability to perform complex tasks remains intact. Women experience menopause in the years surrounding the age of 51, which ends natural fertility.[9] Menopause can have many side effects. Changes can occur to skin and other changes may include a decline in physical fitness, including a reduction in aerobic performance, a decrease in maximal heart rate, and graying and loss of hair. Sensory sensitivity in middle-aged adults has been shown to be one of the lowest.[10] These measurements are generalities and people may exhibit these changes at different rates and times.[11]

The mortality rate can begin to increase from 50 and onwards, mainly due to health problems like heart problems, cancer, hypertension, and diabetes.[8][12] Still, the majority of middle-aged people in industrialized nations can expect to live into old age.

Cognitive characteristics[edit]

Erik Erikson refers to this period of adulthood as the generativity-versus-stagnation – the seventh out of eight stages of Erikson's stages of psychosocial development. People in middle adulthood or middle age may experience some cognitive loss. This loss usually remains unnoticeable because life experiences and strategies are developed to compensate for any decrease in mental abilities.[7]

During this stage, adults often strive to have things that will outlast them. Generativity, which is the concern and the commitment middle-aged people have for future generations, is a big part of the development during this age.[13]

Social and personality characteristics[edit]

For some, marital satisfaction remains intact, but other family relationships can be more difficult. Career satisfaction focuses more on inner satisfaction and contentedness and less on ambition and the desire to advance.[8] Even so, career changes occur often. Middle adulthood or middle age can be a time when people re-examine their lives by taking stock and evaluating their accomplishments. Morality may change and become more conscious.[14] The perception that those in this stage of development of life undergo a "mid-life" crisis is largely false.[15] Personality characteristics remain stable throughout this period.[1] The relationships in middle adulthood may continue to evolve into connections that are stable.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "PsycNET - Option to Buy".
  2. ^ a b "Middle Age: definition of middle age in Oxford dictionary (American English) (US)". Oxforddictionaries.com. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  3. ^ a b "Definition of MIDDLE AGE".
  4. ^ a b Middle age. CollinsDictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved December 05, 2012.
  5. ^ Erikson, Erik H.; Erikson, Joan M. (1997). The Life Cycle Completed (extended ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company (published 1998). ISBN 978-0-393-34743-2.
  6. ^ a b c "Osteoporosis Tests and Diagnosis". 10 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b Gordon-Salant, Sandra; Frisina, Robert D.; Fay, Richard R.; Popper, Arthur (3 May 2010). The Aging Auditory System. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9781441909947 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ a b c d e Stern, Theodore (2016). Massachusetts General Hospital comprehensive clinical psychiatry. London: Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-323-29507-9. Access provided by the University of Pittsburgh.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  9. ^ Bourgeois, F. John; Gehrig, Paola A.; Veljovich, Daniel S. (1 January 2005). Obstetrics and Gynecology Recall. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 9780781748797 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Harkins, S. W.; Price, D. D.; Martelli, M. (1986-01-01). "Effects of Age on Pain Perception: Thermonociception". Journal of Gerontology. 41 (1): 58–63. doi:10.1093/geronj/41.1.58. ISSN 0022-1422. PMID 3941257.
  11. ^ Leyk, Dieter; Rüther, Thomas; Wunderlich, Max; Sievert, Alexander; Eßfeld, Dieter; Witzki, Alexander; Erley, Oliver; Küchmeister, Gerd; Piekarski, Claus; Löllgen, Herbert (2010-11-19). "Physical Performance in Middle Age and Old Age". Deutsches Ärzteblatt Online. 107 (46): 809–816. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2010.0809. ISSN 1866-0452. PMC 2999945. PMID 21151416.
  12. ^ "Products - Data Briefs - Number 193 - March 2015".
  13. ^ "APA PsycNet". psycnet.apa.org. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  14. ^ Kellner, Douglas; Habermas, Jurgen (March 1992). "Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action". Contemporary Sociology. 21 (2): 278. doi:10.2307/2075511. ISSN 0094-3061. JSTOR 2075511.
  15. ^ Levenson, Michael R.; Aldwin, Corolyn M. (2014), "Change in Personality Processes and Health Outcomes", Handbook of Personality Development, Routledge, doi:10.4324/9781315805610.ch21, ISBN 978-1-315-80561-0, retrieved 2021-06-23

External links[edit]

Preceded by Stages of human development
Middle age
Succeeded by

Further reading[edit]

  • Barbara Bradley Haggerty (2016). Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife. Riverhead Books. ISBN 978-1594631702.
  • Lachman, M. E. (Ed.). (2001). Handbook of midlife development. NY: John Wiley.
  • Lachman, M. E., Salom, T., & Agrigoroaei, S. (2015). Midlife as a pivotal period in the life course: Balancing growth and decline at the crossroads of youth and old age. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 39. 20–31. doi: 10.1177/0165025414533223