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Despite the fact that every person develops a unique individuality, there are common features at every stage of one’s life that allow psychologists to develop a general classification. Assessing the reliability of these classifications through conducting an interview with a representative of a specific age group, in this case, a female senior citizen aged 64, is the right person to help apply the theory in practice. The respondent was asked to answer ten questions concerning emotional, socioemotional, and physical development, as well as her current perception of unavoidable death.
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According to E. Erikson, the respondent’s stage of life falls into the psychological category, named Ego Integrity vs. Despair (Berzoff, 2011, p. 111-113). This is the time when a person evaluates his/her lifetime accomplishments and often comes to unsatisfactory conclusions, exaggerating the lost possibilities and diminishing achievements. Nevertheless, the respondent showed a rather objective attitude towards her past, only regretting the career opportunities she had missed after deciding to become a housewife and dedicate herself to childcare. To some extension, she feels socially deprived and, thus, lonely because her main social contacts are her “significant other”, which is her daughter, and some people of her age in Huntington Retirement Hotel, where she moved in after her husband’s death. However, she claims hat she does not have any friends and expresses disappointment with such a state of affairs. The respondent’s emotional condition is also affected by the intense grief at her recently deceased husband. Such combination of emotions, which evokes constant thoughts about death, might cause depression, that is highly dangerous at this age and requires support from both family and medical attendants.
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The physical condition of the respondent is determined by body changes, natural for the young-old subcategory of late adulthood (Small, Dixon, & McArdle, 2011). The senior lady suffers from type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, presbyopia, and obesity that challenges her physical activity (Belsky, 2013, p. 431-435). Her condition requires physical exercise and therapy, but she mainly refuses to execute the former, claiming she lacks someone to accompany her during the prescribed walks outside, even though she is offered a caretaker. The unsatisfying level of activity results in a sedentary lifestyle, as she spends her leisure time watching soap operas on TV. Deep involvement in the programs’ plot line distracts her from negative thoughts, but does not fully relieve from them. The woman admitted that, apart from watching television, she spends a significant amount of time reflecting on her age and illnesses. According to the socioemotional selectivity theory, the respondent’s condition can be fought by intense involvement in social activities and positive hobbies, which would boost her self-worth and self-esteem.
Currently, the respondent’s perception of death falls into the category named by E. Kübler-Ross (2009) as a depression (p. 69). Although this classification focuses on terminally ill patients, it is successfully applicable to people in late adulthood. Kübler-Ross (2009) divides this condition into preparatory and reaction depression, which are addressed differently. The respondent shows signs of reaction depression, caused by the recent loss of a close person. She openly expresses her concerns and fears, and her will to accept help and sympathy, but only from her family. Such conservative attitude towards sharing emotions complicates addressing her condition properly. According to Kübler-Ross (2009), the respondent might find relief in religion, as it might help her get rid of the feeling of meaningless of death (p. 70).
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The attitude towards death among people in late adulthood is determined mostly by fear and pessimistic evaluation of their life. It is, thus, highly essential to support such people and encourage them to participate in social life and positive hobbies. The respondent showed the signs of reaction depression, which has to be addressed both by family members and workers of the caring facility. At this stage, it is important to stimulate the respondent’s will to live and persuade her to explore the new possibilities.
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