Adult \ə-‘dəlt, ‘a-,dəlt\


Adulthood = noun

Definition, Adult:  fully developed and mature:  grown-up. (Merriam-Webster Online)

35 years–55 or 65 years

Physical Development

  • Aging begins as soon as one reaches adulthood and is as much a stage of human life as are infancy, childhood and adolescence.
  • Each of us experiences aging differently, with various organs and systems aging at different rates among individuals.
  • The sharpness of the senses starts to decline as a result of aging. Eyes become drier and the pupils decrease in size. By 60 years of age, the pupils will be 1/3 their size when the person was 20. The number of taste buds begins to decrease between the ages of 40 to 50 in women and 50 to 60 in men.
  • Without exercise, muscle mass can decline 22% for women and 23% for men between the ages of 30 and 70. Exercise can slow this rate of loss.

Cognitive Development

  • The adult brain has a much greater capacity for growth and change than previously believed. The adult brain can grow new dendrites, make new connections and pathways, and perhaps even create new neurons.
  • On average, skills in verbal meaning, spatial reasoning, numbers, and word fluency increase until we are in our late 30s, remain stable until the early 60s, and decline thereafter. Base cognitive skills such as perceptual speed and verbal memory have a similar life course.
  • Cognitive stimulation can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in affected individuals and slow its progression after onset.

Emotional Development

  • Adults report less distance between their ideal self and actual self, indicating that as people develop into adults they become more satisfied with who they are.
  • Multiple studies have shown that older individuals tend to experience fewer negative emotions than their younger counterparts. Even after a traumatic event, adults and older adults cope better than do younger people.

Cultural and Social Development

  • Social development can change suddenly through life-changing events such as becoming a parent or losing a loved one, as well as gradually through social environmental factors such as advancement through a career.
  • Despite the significant social changes experienced during adulthood, an individual’s underlying personality remains fundamentally unaltered. Adults adapt their preexisting personality to their changing circumstances.
  • During late adulthood, adults tend to engage in a social pruning process. We keep emotionally close social relationships while allowing more peripheral relationships fade away.

Next: Old Age