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Chapter 7. Psychological Aspects of Normal Aging

Ilene C. Siegler, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Leonard W. Poon, Ph.D.; David J. Madden, Ph.D.; Peggye Dilworth-Anderson, Ph.D.; K. Warner Schaie, Ph.D., Sc.D. (hon.), Dr.Phil.H.C.; Sherry L. Willis, Ph.D.; Peter Martin, Ph.D.
DOI: 10.1176/appi.books.9781585623754.388872

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Research on psychological aspects of normal aging is now mature and middle-aged. Major longitudinal studies have collected data for up to 50 years of repeated observations, versions of the Handbook of the Psychology of Aging and chapters reviewing the psychology of normal aging have been written for up to 30 years, and the handbook is now in its 6th edition. In this chapter we take a life span approach that is focused on adult development and aging (Siegler 2007a). Thus, it is possible to cite previously published chapters on the normal psychology of aging for geriatric psychiatry (Poon and Siegler 1991; Siegler 1980; Siegler and Poon 1989; Siegler et al. 1996, 2004) and to focus here on the exciting data that recently have become available from mature longitudinal studies and from cross-sectional studies in cognition and neuropsychology, as well as personality and behavioral medicine, that routinely cross disciplinary boundaries. Since the last edition of this textbook, a series of edited volumes have presented reviews in areas of the psychology of normal aging (Birren and Schaie 2006; Carstensen and Hartel 2006; Costa and Siegler 2004) and of health and aging (Aldwin et al. 2007; Markides 2007); these reviews have updated the detailed information presented in the previously published chapters cited above. Attention to how ethnic factors may shape normal psychology of aging are now well recognized (Jackson et al. 2004), and ethnic variations in dementia are being considered (Dilworth-Anderson et al. 2005a, 2005b), as are discussions of cognitive changes with aging (integrated with neuroimaging and neurosciences [Madden and Whiting 2004; Pierce et al. 2004]), including work in motivation, emotion, and social functioning (Carstensen et al. 2006). Summaries from these recent volumes are presented in this chapter.

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FIGURE 7–1. Longitudinal age changes for the primary mental abilities.Source. Schaie KW: Developmental Influences on Adult Intelligence: The Seattle Longitudinal Study. New York, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 116. Reprinted with permission.

FIGURE 7–2. Longitudinal age changes for the latent ability constructs.Source. Schaie KW: Developmental Influences on Adult Intelligence: The Seattle Longitudinal Study. New York, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 127. Reprinted with permission.

FIGURE 7–3. Cumulative cohort differences for the primary mental abilities.Source. Schaie KW: Developmental Influences on Adult Intelligence: The Seattle Longitudinal Study. New York, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 137. Reprinted with permission.

FIGURE 7–4. Classes of hostility and cumulative disease.HT = hypertension; DEP = depression; CAN = cancer.Source. Siegler IC: "Psychology of Aging and the Public Health." 2007 Developmental Health Award, Division 20 and Division 38. Invited address presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA, August 2007. Reprinted with permission.

FIGURE 7–5. A model of psychosocial mediators of health events.CHD = coronary heart disease.Source. Williams RB: "Coping Skills Training in Different Cultures: The LifeSkills Experience." Poster presented at the First Conference of the Central Eastern European Society of Behavioral Medicine, Pecs, Hungary, August 20–22, 2007. Reprinted with permission.

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Which of the following primary mental abilities declines last with aging but also shows a steeper decline than other abilities from the 70s to the 80s?
2.
At what age will the average older adults' primary mental abilities fall below the middle range of performance for young adults?
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Three studies have examined the predictors of the number of days of survival beyond 100 years. Which of the following was a common variable in all three studies that predicted longer survival?
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