Late adulthood spans the time when we reach our mid-sixties until death. This is the longest developmental stage across the lifespan. In this chapter, we will consider the growth in numbers for those in late adulthood, how that number is expected to change in the future, and the implications this will bring to both the United States and worldwide. We will also examine several theories of human aging, the physical, cognitive, and socioemotional changes that occur with this population, and the vast diversity among those in this developmental stage. Further, ageism and many of the myths associated with those in late adulthood will be explored.

Learning Objectives: Late Adulthood Definition and Demographics

  • Describe the increase in the number of individuals who are currently identified as late adults
  • Describe the increase in late adulthood worldwide
  • Explain gender and ethnic differences in the number of individuals identified as late adults
  • Explain the different ways developmental psychologists describe aging
  • Explain the difference between life span and life expectancy
  • Define the three age categories for late adulthood
  • Explain what factors contribute to becoming a centenarian