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Adulthood & Aging

Adulthood & Aging

Marion Mason

Nov 2010, Hardback, 480 pages
ISBN13: 9780205433513
ISBN10: 0205433510
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For undergraduate courses in Adulthood and Aging, Gerontology, and Adult Development.

This text provides an engaging perspective on the issues, challenges, and joys of adult development and aging. It provides a balanced and integrated treatment of young, middle, and later adulthood, concluding with a discussion of life satisfaction and quality of life issues. More than ever there is a need to inform those who will be therapists, health care professionals, social workers, and all others who plan to work with adults in some capacity of the challenges and opportunities that often come our way in adulthood.

In addition, this text covers areas which are often neglected, such as self development and individual differences, life-long learning, community and political life, and values and moral development. The addition of these and other topics, along with a positive-growth focused perspective sets this book apart from other textbooks in this area that have grown out of gerontology backgrounds with a focus on physical decline and illness.

The pedagogical features of the book direct students to key information, and the special features engage the reader in current ethical dilemmas and life-planning issues.

The reader will notice a chronological theme to the chapters, integrated research discussions, and opportunities for critical thinking through the text. The Table of Contents provides a good overview of the content and primary themes found in this text.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Developmental Psychology Applied To Aging: Introduces the major themes of the multidisciplinary and multifaceted nature of the field, the primary theoretical approaches, and an introduction to the scientific basis of the study

Chapter 2: Individual and Multicultural Differences: Lays the foundation for the continued discussion of individual and group differences, particularly in the areas of culture, ethnicity, age and ageism, gender, religion, and intra-individual differences

Chapter 3: Healthy Lifestyles and Successful Aging: Aimed at prevention and physically aging well, this chapter is focused on best practices and common challenges to healthy lifestyles

Chapter 4: Identity Development and Personality: Emphasizing the growth pattern of continually reshaping our identities across adulthood, this chapter explores themes related to Erikson’s developmental view and the influence of personality factors on aging

Chapter 5: Friendships and Love Relationships: Beginning with friendships, this chapter explores love relationships and lifestyle choices, such as cohabiting and marriage, along with separation and divorce

Chapter 6: Families, Generations, and Communities: Continuing the themes of the previous chapter, here the discussion shifts to parenting, grandparenting, family role transitions, and living arrangements across adulthood

Chapter 7: Education, Careers and Retirement: Emphasizing the changing nature of education and work, this chapter is focused on education, jobs and careers, retirement, and the economic issues surrounding aging

Chapter 8: Memory and Basic Cognition: Relying on the foundations laid in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, this chapter introduces the topics of brain imaging, memory models and basic cognitive performance

Chapter 9: Complex Cognition: Building on the previous chapter, the focus here is on higher-order cognitive processing, including intelligence, creativity, everyday problem solving, and reasoning about moral and ethical dilemmas

Chapter 10: Typical Physical Aging: The purpose of this chapter is to explore the areas of expected change, distinct from pathological change, by exploring changes in appearance, sensory systems, body systems, and sexuality with age

Chapter 11: Disease, Illness, and Disorders: Here the discussion shifts to the more common physical illnesses and psychological disorders found among middle age and older adults, while at the same time balancing these trends with group and individual differences

Chapter 12: Coping and Support In Late Adulthood: Emphasizing coping strategies throughout, this discussion explores adaptive technologies, the importance of social support, and the role of religious and personal outlook in quality of life during late adulthood

Chapter 13: Dying, Death, and Bereavement: Beginning with end-of-life decisions, this chapter is focused on the transitions required when death is near and when it occurs, not only of the one who is dying but also those experiencing loss and grief

Chapter 14: Life Satisfaction: The final chapter serves as a gathering place of “lessons learned” by exploring areas of self-concept, wisdom, subjective well-being, and regrets across adulthood.

Many of the features distributed throughout the text can be expanded or adapted to serve as class activities and discussion points. Each chapter includes the following features:

  • Common Sense: Myth or Reality? This feature presents a series of True/False items that may be answered on the spot and checked at the back of the chapter or, as each item gives the section and page number where the answer is found, readers may scan the text for the answers and more information. The purpose of this feature is to prime students’ thinking for the upcoming topics as well as to highlight the notion that common cultural assumptions may not be accurate. These items are also suitable to be used as exam and quiz items.
  • Before We Get Started…: Exercises designed to encourage preliminary consideration of material found in the upcoming sections and how it may apply to the readers’ lives. These exercises prompt students to apply upcoming information to themselves, not only offering opportunities for self-reflection but also the chance to notice individual differences and areas where their personal experiences or outlook differs from what is typical. This feature can be used as a discussion starter in the classroom or as an outside project. These are particularly suited for surveying friends and family and reporting back to the class.
  • Your Thoughts?: Each chapter is enhanced with numerous margin notes encouraging the reader to interact with material by applying it, such as considering how an employer might benefit from certain information, and through prompts that explore difficult cultural and societal questions, such as issues surrounding driving privileges for older adults and physician-assisted death. These items are designed for self-reflection and application of the material. Great for launching in-class discussions.
  • Engaging Vignettes: Sprinkled throughout the chapters are hypothetical scenarios designed to illustrate the ways various research findings, theories, and models may be applied to common adulthood issues and problems. The goal of these vignettes is to allow students to consider the ways research findings and theoretical models might function in real life. These vignettes were created from compilations of numerous stories offered by students and acquaintances across the author's teaching career.
  • Research In-Depth: Included in each chapter, this feature applies a facet of design, methodology, or statistical analysis to a topic discussed in the chapter. By using a topic directly from the chapter students are given an opportunity to learn of the “behind the scenes” research methodology and design that is so often glossed over with statements beginning with “Researchers have found…” Attention was also given in these features to the sometimes difficult decisions researchers must make regarding budgets, time, locating participants, and in choosing instruments. It is important for students to understand how those necessary decisions made in the design are directly tied to the interpretation of the findings.
  • On The Leading Edge: Each chapter has two featured inserts describing recent research and applications that are influencing adult development in interesting ways, such as the use of life-long education in the prison system and the use of internet-based software for cognitive therapy. These features bring research to real life by exploring innovative and clever applications of research findings and available technologies.
  • Tables, Figures, and Summaries: Along with useful descriptive and summary tables and figures, each section is followed with a bullet-point summary of the key points. Students occasionally need guidance in locating the most important points in the reading or in organizing a lengthy discussion in a concise way. These features are designed to provide that guidance for the readers.
  • Chapter Summaries, Comprehension Questions, and Key Terms: Each chapter ends with a bullet-point summary of the chapter, comprehension questions, and a list of key terms for vocabulary review. These features provide students with ideal “quiz yourself” materials. Instructors will find that the chapter summary items easily translate into true/false items on exams while the comprehension questions may be used as short-answer items.
  • Suggested Readings and Websites: An average of four readings and four websites are provided for each chapter. Designed to provide more information for interested students, these features are also useful to instructors as additional reading and the basis for reaction papers or student presentations. Some instructors may find these readings helpful as extra-credit or substitute assignments.

Marion G. Mason received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from The Ohio State University in 1992. Since that time she has spent nearly two decades guiding undergraduates through courses in Human Development and Adulthood and Aging as part of the psychology program at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Immersing herself in the growing use of technology in the classroom, Mason has worked on numerous consulting projects in the development of online testing, demonstrations, activities, and ebooks.

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