Middle age

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Middle age, or middle adulthood, is the age range of the years halfway between childhood and old age.[1] The exact range is subject to academic debate, but the term is commonly used to denote the age range from around 45 to around 65 years.[2][3][4] This phase of life is marked by gradual physical, cognitive, and social decline in individuals as they age.


This time span is generally referred to as "middle age" and can be defined as the time of ages about 40–45 to about 60–65.[2][3][5][6][7] Many changes may occur between young adulthood and this stage.[8][9][10] There is no universal consensus on what the exact definition of middle age is, but usual characteristics include the beginning of rapid decline of fertility, graying of hair, and lessening of opportunities.

Those in middle age continue to develop relationships and adapt to changes in relationships. Such changes are highly evident in the maturing relationships between growing or grown children and aging parents. Community involvement is fairly typical of this stage of adulthood,[11] as is continued career development.

Physical characteristics[edit]

Middle-aged adults may begin to show visible signs of aging. This process can be more rapid in women who have osteoporosis.[citation needed] Changes might occur in the nervous system. The ability to perform complex tasks remains intact. In the normal range of 45 to 55, women experience menopause, which ends natural fertility.[12] [13] 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.[14] These measurements are generalities, and people may exhibit changes at different rates and times.[15]

Mortality rates can begin to increase, due mainly to health issues like heart problems, cancer, hypertension, and diabetes.[11] Still, the majority of middle-aged people in industrialized nations can expect to live into old age.

Starting around age 35, pregnant women are considered to be of advanced maternal age, and significant declines in fertility begin to occur that usually end with menopause around age 50.[16]


Erik Erikson refers to this period of adulthood as generativity versus stagnation, the seventh of eight stages of Erikson's stages of psychosocial development. People in middle age may experience some cognitive loss, which usually remains unnoticeable because life experiences and strategies get developed to compensate for any decrease in mental abilities.[17]

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 development during this stage.[18]

Social and personality characteristics[edit]

For some, marital satisfaction remains intact, but other family relationships can become more difficult. Career satisfaction focuses more on inner satisfaction and contentedness and less on ambition and the desire to advance.[11] Even so, career changes occur often. Middle age can be a time when people reexamine their lives by taking stock and evaluating their accomplishments. Morality may change and become more conscious.[19] The perception that those in this stage of development of life undergo a so-called midlife crisis is a largely false one.[20] Personality characteristics remain stable throughout this period,[1] and relationships in middle age may continue to evolve into connections that are stable.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "APA PsycNet". psycnet.apa.org. Archived from the original on 2020-01-02. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  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". www.merriam-webster.com. Archived from the original on 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  4. ^ "The Language Of Ageism: Understanding How We Talk About Older People". Dictionary.com. 2021-05-19. Retrieved 2023-07-13. When is middle age? We define middle age as "the period of human life between youth and old age, sometimes considered as the years between 45 and 65 or thereabout."Given the different views on when old age begins, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that the exact range of middle age is not set in stone either. In general, our age range of "45 to 65" is around the age range generally used to say when middle age supposedly occurs. Polling shows that people may think middle age begins later or earlier depending on who you ask.
  5. ^ Middle age Archived 2017-07-12 at the Wayback Machine. CollinsDictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved December 05, 2012.
  6. ^ "APA Dictionary of Psychology". dictionary.apa.org. Archived from the original on 2018-04-27. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  7. ^ "middle age | psychology | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Archived from the original on 2022-10-04. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  8. ^ Gordon-Salant, Sandra; Frisina, Robert D.; Fay, Richard R.; Popper, Arthur (3 May 2010). The Aging Auditory System. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9781441909947. Archived from the original on 19 March 2023. Retrieved 1 November 2020 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Infurna, F. J.; Gerstorf, D.; Lachman, M. E. (2020). "Midlife in the 2020s: Opportunities and Challenges". The American Psychologist. 75 (4): 470–485. doi:10.1037/amp0000591. PMC 7347230. PMID 32378943.
  10. ^ Lachman, M. E. (2015). "Mind the Gap in the Middle: A Call to Study Midlife". Research in Human Development. 12 (3–4): 327–334. doi:10.1080/15427609.2015.1068048. PMC 4734389. PMID 26848288.
  11. ^ a b c d Stern, Theodore (2016). Massachusetts General Hospital comprehensive clinical psychiatry. London: Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-323-29507-9.
  12. ^ Bourgeois, F. John; Gehrig, Paola A.; Veljovich, Daniel S. (1 January 2005). Obstetrics and Gynecology Recall. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 9780781748797. Archived from the original on 10 January 2023. Retrieved 1 November 2020 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ "What is Menopause?".
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Leyk, Dieter; Rüther, Thomas; Wunderlich, Max; et al. (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.
  16. ^ staff, familydoctor org editorial; Rice, Alex; Rice, Alex (September 7, 2017). "Pregnancy After 35: Advanced Maternal Age". familydoctor.org. Archived from the original on October 4, 2022. Retrieved October 4, 2022.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "APA PsycNet". psycnet.apa.org. Archived from the original on 2021-05-26. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by Stages of human development
Middle age
Succeeded by