Late adulthood: Who knew we would get here? Developmentally, late adulthood is 65 and older. We have reached this incredible milestone. Reaching this age group, my generation looks nothing like that of my parents and grandparents.
According to Erik Erikson, the last psychosocial stage is Integrity vs. Despair. This stage includes, “a retrospective accounting of one’s life to date; how much one embraces life as having been well lived, as opposed to regretting missed opportunities,” (Erikson, 1982). Those in late adulthood need to achieve both the acceptance of their life and the inevitability of their death (Barker, 2016).
This stage includes finding meaning in one’s life and accepting one’s accomplishments but also acknowledging what in life has not gone as hoped. It is also feeling a sense of contentment and accepting others’ deficiencies, including those of their parents. This acceptance will lead to integrity, but if elders are unable to achieve this acceptance, they may experience despair. Bitterness and resentments in relationships and life events can lead one to despair at the end of life. According to Erikson (1982), successful completion of this stage leads to wisdom in late life.
Again, building on last week’s column, there are two paths in this life. The final stage in life is wisdom. Wisdom is the result of resolving life crisis and helping the next generation resolve their own crises. Wisdom is a full acceptance of self — with all the successes and failures in that acceptance. The final acceptance is our own mortality.
For some that may appear as giving up, it is not. Instead, it is a make every minute count for the time left on this earth. Make it count through helping people through life crises.
I accomplish this through giving generously, teaching, counseling, supervising new counselors, creating new projects, teaching online, and mentoring the next generation, especially uplifting family members.
The main point here: Wisdom is the best stage of development! Never give up; you have so much to give.
Remember my friends and readers, embrace Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Love God and all people. Amen.