Middle adulthood is the time period from 35 years of age until 64 years of age. It is the midpoint of a person’s life. Many people have achieved happiness at this point in their lives, but there are some who feel like they are that much closer to death without accomplishing anything. Just like any other point in life this time period brings about many changes and stresses to deal with daily. How a person handles these issues determines if he or she achieves total happiness with their own self.
Webster defines middle as “equal distance from the beginning to the end” (Dictionary, 2010). It also states that the word adult is a person who is “fully grown or developed” (Dictionary, 2010). Basically by combining these two words a person is half way through with his or her life. There is not a magic crystal ball that can 100% correctly predict when a person’s ticker will stop beating. Researchers did a study and came up with an approximate life expectancy of women. These researchers took an average of women in 17 different countries and came up with a life expectancy of approximately 82 for the year 2000 (Bongaarts, 2009). There are many factors to be considered that could change these numbers significantly. This number is just an educated guess of women who are in good health and get the proper amounts of nutrition and exercise. Most people probably would not want to know an exact time that their life will end. If people live a good lifestyle then their life expectancy is much longer than that of the people from decades ago.
The middle adulthood years are from 35 to 64 years of age. At this time people experience an enormous amount of responsibilities that could include caring for children or aging parents (Dacey et al., 2009). This time period also brings about physical changes in people. A person’s hair will start to turn gray, and women will go through menopause during this time period (Dacey et al., 2009). Menopause can be a very trying time in a woman’s life. There are so many hormonal changes that can upset a woman’s normal balance and include physical symptoms such as mood swings, emotional outbursts, and hot flashes. Menopause is a woman’s first sign of aging that usually starts within a few years of turning 50 (Myers, 2008). There are medications available to help with some of the side effects that occur during the change.
Researchers have their own theories about what happens during middle adulthood. Erik Erikson deems this period as the “challenge of making a difference vs. self-absorption” (Macionis, 2008). He felt that there is a challenge at this point to contribute successfully to the lives of other people in the world. This included all parts of a person’s personal and professional life. If a person failed to contribute successfully he suggested that people become “self-centered” and caught up in their own desires (Macionis, 2008). There are many people found throughout the world who fall into the self-centered category in their lives. The world only revolves around them in their eyes. The people who are genuinely happy with their lives are the ones who feel like they have made a positive difference in the world to other people. Development of a person involves many changes in life. A person’s culture plays an important role in their lifespan development. “Development is powerfully influenced by cultural forces reflecting the ideas and values of a particular era” (Dacey et al., 2009). Each culture has different beliefs and values that they instill in their children from birth. This paper will explore the life of a middle adult female and the many ups and downs in her life. The writer of this paper is exploring her own life by viewing her life as an outsider looking in would view her. The paper will try and explain her life as she sees it when looking at herself in the mirror each and every day.
This paper is an observation of a female who is in the middle adulthood stage of life. She is 36 years old born in March 1974 in Newnan hospital on a cold winter evening. Her birth name given to her by her parents is Christy Nicole Hardy. Christy was born to parents Linda and Tommy delivered by Dr. Malcolm Cole. Her birth weight was slightly over 7 pounds and she was very healthy at the time of birth. She was very lucky to have been born healthy because her mother smoked while she was pregnant. The dangers of smoking while being pregnant were not known back in the seventies. Women who smoke while they are carrying a child are more likely to have babies with respiratory problems, low birth weight, or even a spontaneous abortion (Macionis, 2008). This child was very lucky to have escaped the dangers of smoking during pregnancy. The parents could not overcome the struggles of being married so young and they divorced before she turned two. She has one real brother named Tommy that has both the same parents as her. Both of the parents have been remarried for over 25 years, but neither one of them had any more biological children of their own. Her dad lives with her two step sisters and with his wife. The old saying that the third time is a charm must be correct because both of her parents are on their third marriages. The ethnic background of the family is Caucasian. Christy was raised most of her life in Lagrange where she went to Troup High School in the nineties. Eventually in her twenties she moved back to her birthplace in Newnan. She is also on her third marriage and has two biological daughters ages 14 and 18. Her husband has 4 children from a previous marriage and they are all boys. The husband is on his third marriage also. The living arrangements include Christy, her husband, and two daughters. There are also two cocker spaniels that are inside dogs. The house is in a subdivision near her daughter’s school that her family has resided in for about 9 years. Christy moved out at 17 years old and has lived in six different residences. The birth of her daughter was when she was 18 years old. Her graduation year was supposed to be in 1992, but she quit school to have her daughter. In 1993 she obtained her GED at West Georgia Technical College.
There are many diseases in the world with many new ones arising every day. A person’s health can directly determine the path that he or she takes throughout the course of a lifetime. The body gets abused throughout a person’s life, and “physical systems do decline with age” (Dacey et al., 2009). All people want to live a normal healthy life with very minimum trips to hospitals and doctors. Christy is healthy for her age and has not had any major issues. The surgeries that she has had include appendectomy, lithotripsy, tonsillectomy, and surgery to repair a severed Achilles tendon from a work related accident. Both of the pregnancies went well except for having kidney stones while carrying her second child. The only problems that she still has are migraines and seasonal allergies. The migraines seem to come on when there is a lot of stress in her life. The allergies are kept under control with over the counter medicine. Weight gain is an issue in these years because metabolism starts to slow down with age. Half of the United States population weighs over there normal weight range (Dacey et al., 2009). Christy has gained weight and lost weight many times over the years, but has never been considered obese for her body frame. Her weight at this time is correct with the BMI charts. Most of the family is within normal weight limits.
Smoking and Alcohol
One of the most important things is a person’s heart. A rapid heartbeat in reaction to stressful changes is not something to be worried about (Dacey et al., 2009). Long term stress can contribute to heart disease. Other factors such as smoking and alcohol can also have dangerous consequences on a person’s heart. Christy has been a smoker since she was 16 years old. The only times she has successfully quit smoking was during both of her pregnancies. There have been many failed attempts at quitting in her life. She has set a quit date hoping that this time she can kick the nasty habit. Emphysema is one of the many problems that smoking cigarettes can create. Her mother was just diagnosed with emphysema and hopefully this will help her quit for good this time. “Elevated blood pressure is one of the causes of coronary heart disease” (Myers, 2008). At every doctor’s visit her blood pressure is normal. Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for all those years could likely have health consequences at some point in her life. Alcohol is another major health concern in the middle years. One or two drinks per day can be dangerous because it can cause enlargement of the heart (Dacey et al., 2009). Alcohol does not seem to be a problem in her life because she only social drinks occasionally. During her teen years she drank quite a bit and that could affect her. Alcoholism runs in her family so she has been very careful over the years not to fall victim to that disease.
There are five senses that humans have: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing (Zamora, 2006). People who are weak in one of their senses sometimes are stronger in another one. A blind person can usually hear much better than the average person. Many people take for granted everyday experiences such as “reading, driving a car, enjoying a good meal, or holding a child in our arms” (Dacey et al., 2009). All of these common experiences depend on the senses to help people be able to do them. Christy had perfect vision until she was in her early twenties. She went to renew her driver’s license and failed the vision test. Upon going to the eye doctor she got glasses. Glasses were not her thing so she got fitted for Contac lenses and wears them daily. Without her lenses she has a hard time doing simple things such as reading, driving, and watching television. Both of her parents have bad vision. Her father has been wearing glasses since he was a baby, and her mother had Lasik corrective surgery to correct her vision. Her oldest child wears glasses, but not the younger one. “Hearing seems to be susceptible to decline at about age 40” (Dacey et al., 2009). People who are hard of hearing can wear hearing aids to help. So far her hearing is very good and has not declined any. Research has discovered that a person’s sense of smell starts to decrease during aging (Dacey et al., 2009). Christy’s family teases her because she has a good sense of smell. Really bad odors will cause her to vomit because her sense of smell is so strong. What she lacks in vision she definitely makes her for with her nose. Taste and smell go hand in hand together. When a person does not want to taste something bad they can hold their nose to keep from tasting it. Since Christy’s stomach is so weak she holds her nose when taking various medicines that have a bad taste. Smoking interferes with taste buds so her food probably does not taste as well as it would if she kicked the habit of smoking.
Declining cognitive development has been a major concern for people for many years (Dacey et al., 2009). People cringe at the thought of everything they have learned over the years slowly disappearing. Alzheimer’s is a very scary disease that no family wants to be plagued with having to deal with. Studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of people over age 40 say that “their memory is worse than it was 10 years earlier” (Myers, 2008). Slowly adults start to not be able to remember stuff that happened. “Unless given a jolt of caffeine, older adults have better recognition memory early in the day rather than late” (Myers, 2008). Christy has an excellent memory for things like phone numbers, names, and to do lists. The older she has gotten if she has to read a chapter in a textbook it’s hard to remember it without going over it several times. This has made school harder for her because it is very time consuming to reread chapters. All people want to be intelligent in their lives. J.L. Horn puts intelligence into two categories. Fluid intelligence depends on the proper “functioning of the nervous system and is measured by tasks that show age related declines” (Dacey et al., 2009). Crystallized intelligence is a cumulate intelligence, and it is measured by tests of “verbal ability and cultural knowledge” (Dacey et al., 2009). All through school Christy had A’s and was in the gifted programs. During her high school years her grades declined some because of peer influences and working a full time job. She still maintained all A’s and B’s. Going back to school after 18 years has been hard for her. She maintains currently a 4.0 average and has almost completed all of her core classes in the last year she has been in school. It does not come easy for her now that she is older because she has to spend hours and hours studying to maintain that average. Her goal is to get accepted into the registered nursing program. Creativity is a very important part of cognitive functioning (Dacey et al., 2009). Christy is a very creative person as evident in the many projects she has helped her children with over the years. She is very good at expressing what she is thinking on paper. At her last job in sales she was very creative in coming up with new ways to get customers to buy from her company. Learning new information gets harder as people enter into middle adulthood. The one advantage that Christy has on her side is she still has a good memory for stuff that she reads over multiple times.
All people at some point in their lives have to work to make a living for their families. Many years ago most women stayed home to raise the children. On average 63% of women work, and 54% of those women work full time (Facts about Working Women, 2010). Employers are now faced with many older workers so they started to pay more attention to the welfare of their employees (Dacey et al., 2009). Christy has worked a full time job since she was 16 years old only to take time off to have her daughters. Finding a job without a college education is easy, but the pay is usually very low. She has worked various jobs such as cashier, police department, restaurants, and in offices. None of those jobs paid very well so most of the time she struggled supporting her family. She has been on her own since she was 17 and always been independent. Her first two husbands did not show the desire to have a good work history. Not exactly her dream job, but eleven years ago she got a job at a building supply store in inside sales making double what she was making. Wanting to do better for her family she worked her way to outside sales making 4 times what she had ever made at any other job. That job lasted 10 years and the economy went bad and her company laid her off. Losing that job has brought devastation to her financial status, but it has not made her give up on providing for her family. This layoff created the opportunity to finally go back to school to become a nurse like she desperately wanted in high school. Financially her family has had to make sacrifices, but in the end it will all be worth it. After all of those years she had to start budgeting again with money. Her daughters hated it at first, but now have learned to live without things such as pay channels and eating out all of the time. Women have to face different issues working than men do. Women do not earn as much as men doing the same job. Another issue women have to face is sexual harassment from bosses or other male employees that work with them on a daily basis. Sexual harassment can be in different forms such as verbal, touching, or sexual suggestions. Before she turned 21 Christy faced sexual harassment at a police department she worked for. The officer made many sexual suggestions and tried to buy her alcohol even though she was not of legal drinking age. After a few complaints to his supervisor and an investigation into the taped conversations on the police department phone system the officer was fired. The officer made many threats to her before finally moving on. She was sitting in a restaurant when she was in her twenties and the same officer came in with his police uniform on. He was working in the new town that she currently lives in. It is ashamed that he was still allowed to keep protecting the citizens after the many other complaints he had besides the one that Christy complained about. Other than that one incident she has never been bothered again. She did work with a guy doing the same job that made 20,000 more dollars a year than her, and that is why she went to outside sales so she could make more money. Most individuals reach their career goals by the time they turn forty or they start a new career (Dacey et al., 2009). After Christy got laid off she decided to start over with a new career because that was the second time she was laid off in the same career.
Stress is a very real part of life that cannot be ignored. Today’s families usually have both parents working, and there are many single parent households that just add to the stress level. There are challenges relating to work, poverty, safety, and children’s behavior (Dacey et al., 2009). A simple change in a person’s life can create tension in a family. Prolonged stress can cause many health problems in a person. Depending on how people respond to catastrophes, significant life changes, and daily hassles determines the amount of stress in their lives (Myers, 2008). A person’s reaction can either be positive or negative to these events, and the positive people create much less stress in their lives. There are many medications available to help people deal with the everyday struggles of life. At her last job Christy had to deal with many stressful days and seemed to handle it very well. All children have issues and she seems to bounce back even with all of the adolescent issues she deals with from day to day with her children. Taking care of a household and trying to maintain a 4.0 average is very hard and sometimes seems to really take a toll on her life. Long term stress can lead to depression which luckily she has not had to deal with except for the occasional blues.
Marriage is supposed to be a time in a person’s life that is forever. The vows spoken at a wedding ceremony are supposed to be for better or worse, in sickness or health, and for richer or poorer until death do them part. That would be a perfect fairytale ending to life, but things do not always work out that way. The daily struggles of life get in the way and cause many families to break up. The odds are stacked against people when it comes to marriage because approximately one million divorces occur each year (Dacey et al., 2009). After the third try Christy is finally in a happy marriage. The common explanations for a happy marriage are “friendship, love, and similar interest and backgrounds” (Dacey et al., 2009). It was not easy to get to the marriage she has today. She had to dig deep in her own soul and find happiness within herself before she could ever hope to be happy with another person. Getting to that point was not easy because people do not want to admit that they need to make changes in their lives. She has spent her whole life caring for everybody else and letting herself go. The decision to make a change did not come easy for her. After spending 10 years in an abusive relationship she woke up one day and realized she deserved so much better for her life. Getting the courage to leave him was very hard because he threatened her life many times. She had to go file a restraining order to get away from him which he broke a few times before his life ended due to liver complications from being an alcoholic. She is now married to a wonderful man who treats her with the respect she deserves. He has taken on her children just like he is their biological father. A person’s relationship with his or her parents is very important. The old saying is that a woman can judge a man by the way he treats his mother is very true. During the middle adulthood many people see an improvement in the relationship with their parents (Dacey et al., 2009). Adults suddenly realize the struggles that their parents went through and gain a deeper respect and understanding for their parents. Christy has always had a very close relationship with her parents even when times were rough. She was raised to show her parents respect as well as people older than her. Yes mam or Yes sir is words that even in adulthood are still in her vocabulary quite often. One of her closest relationships other than her husband is with her brother. They have always had a close bond and can count on each other in times of need. Researchers have recognized the importance of sibling relationships for cognitive and social growth (Dacey et al., 2009). Friendships are needed throughout a person’s life. As long as the friendship is a two way street they can be a healthy addition to a person’s life. Christy is not a shy person and is very outgoing, but only has a few close friends that she trusts completely. After being in that abusive relationship she is steadily working toward trusting others more in her life.
Getting from one point to the other point in a person’s life can have many obstacles to overcome. Life has many roadblocks that get in the path of development. Life is not an easy road to travel nor does it come with a book of rules to help a person along the way. There will always be a crisis that must be solved in order for people to continue on with living. There will be deaths, accidents, and financial strains on a daily basis. How people handle those problems are the key to a successful future. Becoming a success is not about how much money a person makes on a paycheck. Success comes from being kind, loving, and giving to others that are around without expecting anything in return. Having a big heart for others makes people good no matter what their bank account monthly statement says. In my opinion I owe everything to my parents. They have always been there when I needed them no matter what the situation was. They taught me that you have to give respect to get respect, and that you never take something that does not belong to you no matter how bad you want it. Both of my parents have worked hard their whole life and taught me that if you want something in life you have to work hard to obtain it. My husband is my rock who I have leaned on many times for support. Without him in my life I would not have had the courage or opportunity to even think of going back to school to achieve my dream that I thought was gone forever. My future holds endless possibilities as long as I keep a positive attitude. In the future I think I will achieve my dream of becoming a registered nurse. Going back to school has shown my children that it is never too late for a second chance.