Developmental Aging Through the Cognitive Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The central nervous system is impaired generally producing retardation as well as accelerating the accretion of neurotic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. Chromosome 21 mutations have been implicated in Alzheimer's disease but the specific gene related to Down Syndrome is yet undetermined.

E. Developmental Psychological Aspects of Aging

The study of developmental psychology is focused on the changes of individuals over passage of time as well as the processes that bring about those changes. There are two main processes that cause individuals to changes during their lifetimes are 1) maturation; and 2) learning. Maturation is defined as the developmental changes that occur as a result of the aging process. Maturation information is said to be encoded in the genes of an individual. Learning is a change that is relatively permanent as to behavioral change, which results due to practice or experience.

F. Developmental Cohorts

Cohorts are groups of people who share similar life experiences for example age differences among groups of people who are different ages could be the result from cohort differences, which is due to cultural and historical factors in growing up or development.

G. Facts of Aging

Stated facts of aging include the fact that the body reaches its' peak efficiency at the age of 30 and then begins its' decline. According to Graham (2005) "Using age 20 as reflective of 100% performance" the following is seen:

Pumping efficiency of the heart is reduced about 20% when a person reaches

Kidney function is reduced about 25% at 55 years of age

Maximum breathing capacity declines about 40% by age 55 and 60$ by age 75

Basal metabolism rate goes down about 10%

The average life span has been significantly lengthened to what could be a lifespan of 140 years

Thirty percent of individuals that are older than 85 years of age that succumb to minor injuries or sickness that when they were younger would not phase them but due to advanced age and the weakness of the immune system they cannot withstand the sickness that they were able to withstand in younger years.

Cancer is stated to account for 30% of deaths among people in the age range from 65 to 69 and kill 12% of those over the age of 80

The older an individual the slower the growth of cancer. Deaths due to coronary disease are 80% in the over -65-age group.

Life expectancy is presently76 years of age when in 1900 the life expectancy was 47 years of age.

13,500 deaths occurred from heart attacks alone last year.

Stroke patients under the age of 65 years are in the number of 28% with 40% stroke patients being women

Hypertension is the most consistent powerful predictor of stroke and factors n 70% of all strokes.

H. Cognitive Development

The last areas of the brain to complete development which causes the cognitive development of humans to be behind the physical ability development. The desire to understand the world behind us is that which drives cognitive development. Jean Piaget, a Swiss theorist, attained his PhD at the young age of 21 and worked at Alfred Binet's school laboratory which was the place of the first testing of intellectual abilities was developed. Piaget was intrigued at how children answered questions incorrectly and through studies of his own children expanded the studies to larger groups of kids making a name for himself in the U.S. By the 1960's although he was known throughout Europe since the decade of the thirties. Piaget proposed that people create mental models or schemas about how the world works.

Also postulated by Piaget are two general processes governing schema change which are:

Assimilation - Putting new things into old models or schemas.

Accommodation - Modification of existing models or schemas to fit new experiences.

Piaget, Erickson and Maslow

I. Piaget Theorist: Four-Stages of Human Cognitive Development

According to the theories of Piaget there are four stages of human cognitive development suggesting that the stages occur in what he called an "invariant developmental sequence' and suggested as well that the exact ages that children develop and move up to the next stage differ from one child to another. The four-stages of the theory of Piaget are those of:

1) Sensor motor (birth to 2 years) - the first responses that infants make in the world occur by chance. It is only between the ages of 8 and 12 months that infants start to intentionally make actions and it is at this stage that problem-solving behaviors appear and the performance of action as means to a foreseen end are performed. 'Imitation ability' first appears at this stage. Object permanence is also a part of the sensor motor stage. In the start of development once an object is placed out of sight the object is gone from the point-of-view of the infant but they do gradually come to know that there is object permanence.

2) Preoperational stage (2 to 6 years) - an infant begins life as egocentrics, in that they are unable to see from another's viewpoint. Conservation is a notion that children acquire through learning. In the start their judgment of objects is based on their size and no on the content. Children don't distinguish between reality and looks at this point.

3) Concrete Operations (7 years to 12 years) - the proposal of Piaget was that children's thinking begins on a mental level at this stage.

4) Formal Operations (12 years onward) - During this stage the ability to reason on a formal and abstract basis in relation to things that are purely abstract and symbolic in nature. Hypothetical-deductive reasoning can be used in the systematic solution of problems and it is suggested that this reasoning is used in science.

II. Maslow's Theory of Personality & Hierarchy of Needs

The theory of Abraham Maslow called the theory of personality has impacted several fields. Maslow is a humanistic psychologist holding that humans are not pulled and pushed by mechanical forces. The focus of the humanist is upon potentials. Maslow also set out the hierarchic theory of needs which are instinctual based on five levels of basic needs which are:

Physiological needs,

Safety needs

Needs of love, affection and belongingness

Needs for Esteem; and Needs for Self-Actualization.

III. Gardner's Eight Forms of Intelligence are stated to be as follows:




Bodily Kinesthetic



Developmental Aging through the Cognitive Process

Literature Review

According to Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, a geriatrician and epidemiologist who conducts research in relation to cognitive decline in older individuals. According to Dr. Ferrucci, "Aging is accompanied by a global susceptibility for a number of different diseases and functional decline that cannot be readily assessed by the currently available approaches. However, the mechanism leads to such a susceptibility to disease and disability in the elderly is poorly understood. (Ferrucci, 2005) Ferruci (2005) states that the link between "aging, morbidity and disability is to examine such a relationship in the context of longitudinal studies." According to Ferruci it is commonly accepted knowledge among practitioners that the functions of physical and cognitive are those which are predictors of mortality and this is of a strong nature. It is believed that the elderly are susceptible to sickness in the form of acute and chronic disease as well as the likelihood to be affected by multiple conditions.

Historically the frailty experienced by the elderly has been considered to be definitive of a 'severely disabling condition' however Ferrucci states that in the study of frailty a different approach was taken in defining frailty as "a dynamic process that becomes evident earlier in life, when specific interventions are more likely to be effective." (Ferrucci, 2005) in a study conducted by Ferrucci and developmental cohorts it was found that fifty-percent of the elderly population has disability resulting from an acute catastrophic event that in a very short stretch of time leads to the individual being severely disabled in their daily living activities. Furthermore, the remaining fifty-percent experience disability as a slow-developing progressive disabler in their lives. In a recent study conducted in the design of the InCHIANTI study the model in which mobility problems caused from impairments were grouped into six main subcategories which are:

Central Nervous System

Peripheral Nervous System

Perceptual System


Bones & Joints

Energy Production and Delivery

Preliminary data gives suggestion that "two main predictors of poor lower extremity performance are the reduction of muscle power and dysfunctions of the central nervous system showing as well that many complex interactions between the anatomical integrity and functionality of the different subsystems. (Ferrucci, 2005) Because the behavioral environment is conditioned very strongly by physical and cognitive function which both require the integrity and functionality of multiple physiological systems resulting in reduction of physical and cognitive function it is important to understand that this reduction is generally…

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