Aging As Development
Human life is a process. A number of psychologistshave attempted to identify the particular tasks thatmust be accomplished at each stage ofdevelopment. Successful completion of tasks at onestage means that the individual normally proceeds tothe next stage and a few set of tasks. It is notalways recognized, however, that there are newtasks for the aged1 as well as for those who are younger. Aging, in other words, is a new stagein the developmental process of life.
What are the developmental tasks faced by the aged? Some tasks are similar to those of otherage groups, and some are peculiar to the elderly. In the nineteenth century, for instance, mostmen had no transition to retirement. Typically, a man worked until disability or death. Fewpeople had to deal with the "empty nest2" problem, since children either did not leave the familyhouse or returned there to live with their elderly parents.
Today, when an increasing number of people are living into their seventies and eighties, thereare at least five developmental tasks facing the elderly. First, the aged must come to termswith3 the physical limitations inherent in4 their stage of life. They will no longer be able toengage in certain activities as often or as successfully as they once could. Second, havingcome to terms with the limitations, the older person must redefine the scope of his or heractivities. Third, the older person must find new sources for satisfying his or her needs. Thismay be particularly acute at the time of retirement for those who hold to the work ethic.
A fourth task is to reassess the criteria for self-evaluation. Again, the loss of work is involved,for many Americans consider themselves worthwhile because they have a fulltime job. Thequestion the elderly person must face is "Am I a worthwhile person because of the kind ofindividual I am, because of the various qualities I possess, or am I worthwhile only as long asI can function in some kind of job?" A man who lost his job in advertising when he was sixty-one told the author that he could not find another job in his field. He has done some freelancework, but he still mourns the loss of his job. "I loved what I did, " he said, "and I resented beingthrown out on the scrap heap5. There are times when I think I'm just not worth anythinganymore. "
Finally, the aged face the task of finding ways to give meaning and purpose to their 021 lives.This task arises throughout the individual's life. Many elderly people find challenges, struggles,and gratifications just as they did in their earlier years.
Complete the sentences with the proper forms of the words given in parentheses:
1. We are _____( gratification) to learn that you have won the scholarship.
2. Your work in office has not been very _____( product) .
3. Money will be paid half in advance and half on_____ ( complete ) .
4. All railroads have weight and height _____( limit) because of tunnels, bridges and so forth.
1. gratified 2. productive 3. completion 4. limitations
人生是个过程。一些心理学者试图找出人生每一阶段必须完成的特定任务。圆满地 完成一个阶段的任务意味着这个人已顺利进入下一个阶段, 又要面对一些新的任务。然 而, 人们并不一定能意识到不仅年轻人有新任务, 而且老年人也有新的事情要做。换句话 说, 衰老是人生过程中一个新的阶段。
那么老年人面对的发展任务是什么呢? 有些任务与其他年龄组的相似, 还有一些则是 老年人特有的。比如说, 19 世纪, 大多数人不会退休。那个时候的人常常会工作到做不动 甚至做到死。很少会有人面对“ 守空巢”的问题, 因为他们的孩子或者不离开父母家, 或者 离家后又回来跟年迈的父母同住。
今天, 步入耄耋之年的老人越来越多, 他们至少要面对五项生活任务。首先, 老年人必 须承认这个人生阶段所带来的身体上的限制。他们已不能像年轻时候那样频繁地参加某 些活动, 也不会如过去那般成功。第二, 承认身体上的局限之后, 老年人就必须重新界定自 己的活动范围。第三, 老年人必须要找到能满足自己需要的新的资源。对于那些恪守工作 道德的老年人来说, 这一点在他们退休的时候也许尤为重要。
第四个任务是要重新审视自我评价的标准。又要说到失去工作这个问题了, 因为许多 美国人之所以认为自己有价值, 是因为他们有一份全职工作。老年人必须面对的一个问题 是“ 我的价值在于我本身, 还是在于我身上有各种优点, 还是仅仅在于我能在某份工作中起 022 到 一些作用? ”一位在61 岁的时候失去他在广告业的工作的男士对本作者说, 他在广告这 一行已经找不到工作了。虽然他现在做一些自由撰稿的活儿, 但仍然为失去原来的工作而 闷闷不乐。“ 我热爱我的工作, ”他说,“ 我讨厌像扔垃圾一样被炒掉。有时候我感觉自己 已没有什么价值了。”
最后, 老年人还要面对如何使他们的生活充满意义和目的的任务。这个任务贯穿了人 的一生。许多老年人最终找到了各种挑战、竞争和满足感, 就像他们年轻的时候一样。