The results of the interview with my three participants of varying levels of adulthood have indeed demonstrated that their changes are linked to normative age-graded influences (Bjorklund & Bee, 2006). With respect to cognitive changes, Mrs. Sarai Knowles, a 47 year-old mother of three, has within the past three or four years noticed an increase in the amount of time it takes for her to remember the names of everyday objects.
She admitted that this phenomenon was preceded by increased difficulty remembering less concrete words, such as adjectives she may have used to help her articulate when having conversations. The onset of memory changes during middle adulthood was corroborated by the other two participants. Though older, Mr. Sean Blankett (72) and Mrs. Evelyn Richardson (88) do recall having such minor, yet progressive memory lapses at approximately 45 years of age.
All three participants say that the change has frustrated them during conversation and two of them (Blankett and Richardson) say they have had to develop strategies for giving themselves time to think of words during conversations. Mrs. Knowles indicates that she is not sure whether the condition really is one that should be considered a problem. She considers herself to be doing as well as other adults her age. Here she makes reference to her functional age (2006).
What activities do you know of that might help you maintain your cognitive abilities over time?
To maintain memory health, two of the three participants referred to cardiovascular and neural fitness (Bjorklund & Bee, 2006, p. 126). Mrs. Richardson and Mr. Blankett have mentioned trying to eat more rich colored vegetables.
They both also attempt to perform exercises, which they feel have the power to increase blood flow to their tissues (physical activity), including their brains and thereby keep them more alert (2006, p. 126). Mrs. Richardson also regularly does puzzles (Sudoku) in an attempt to keep her mind alert, and Mr. Richardson reads a lot.
These are examples of intellectual activity (2006, p. 125). Mrs. Knowles admits she is too busy to do anything to improve her memory. She has an idea of the existence of particular vegetables that do improve memory, but she is not sure specifically which ones they are and has not had the time to find out.
How did/do these roles (marriage, parenting, and grandparenting) affect their satisfaction in life?
When asked about the roles they have filled and the effect that these have had on their lives, Mrs. Knowles and Mrs. Richardson found the role of parenting to be very fulfilling. They enjoyed taking care of their children and even the challenges that attended the years of child rearing. In comparison with grand-parenting, Mrs. Richardson found parenting to be easier but gained a similar amount of satisfaction from grand-parenting.
She considered grand-parenting to have the added satisfaction of watching her own children fulfilling the responsibility and gaining the pleasure of being parents. Mrs. Knowles admitted she had limited knowledge of the grand-parenting stage, considering it to be as distant as retiring.
On the other hand, Mr. Blankett cited the milestone of marriage as the one that really changed his life because it ushered him into the role of being the provider—first for his wife and then for the family they reared.
Mrs. Richardson mentioned the idea of bereavement as being a part of marriage, as one spouse must die before the other. She admitted to feeling death anxiety before her husband died. He was chronically ill for thirteen years.
Because of this, she was able to speak of the several ways in which the process death was a loss for her husband (Bjorklund & Bee, 2006, p. 325). He lost functionality gradually, and in a way she said this was like him losing his body before he died. He did lose his relationships too because he became unable to spend time with his friends in the way he used to before his illness.
He was also unable to visit his children and grandchildren in the way he would have if he had been healthy. In a way, for Mrs. Richardson’s husband, his final death was only the end stage of a long process of death.
All three participants speak of their impending death with some measure of apprehension, but for Mrs. Richardson it appears to be less scary as she indicates she is ready to go and be where her husband is. She apparently believes in an afterlife (2006, p. 325).
She will, however, miss her children and grandchildren. Mrs. Knowles does not want to think of death as she still has children who are not yet fully grown (teenagers) and her husband needs her.
[For the purposes of confidentiality, fictional names have been used.]
Bjorklund, B. R. & H. L. Bee. (2006). The Journey of Adulthood. 6th Ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.