Rafael Human Growth Overview

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Maintenance of good physical health

Physical activity has a beneficial association with anxiety, depression and self-concept (Atchley & Amanda, 2004). Good physical health improves mood and reduces the symptom of depression and anxiety. Besides, good physical health enhances the experience of wellbeing and increases physical self-concept. People engaging in regular physical activity gain significant psychological, emotional benefits and well established physiological benefits (Atchley & Amanda, 2004). Self-concepts are perceptions of oneself, consists of several domains including the academic, social, emotional, and physical domains. The physical self-concept is constructed from people’s perception of their appearance, strength or sports competence (Atchley & Amanda, 2004). Since physical activity can enhance one’s appearance and physical self-concept, image and physical activity are two domains that can influence the overall health and wellbeing.

Retention of cognitive abilities

Cognitive reserve theory proposes that intelligence and life experiences such as education, occupational attainments, and participation in leisure activities, supply a buffer in the form of set skills that enable some people to adapt cognitive decline better than others (Hertzman & Power, 2003). People with greater cognitive reserve have the capabilities to optimize performance through different brain recruitment networks and thus able to perform tasks much faster and efficiently. Engagement of activities that involve social, physical and intellectual nature, are connected with the slow cognitive decline in health (Hertzman & Power, 2003). Those with higher learning have greater intelligence, higher brain weight, and larger neurons than those with lesser learning. Activities that elicited cognitive abilities and help people to maximize the functioning of the mind in later stages of their life.

Continuing engagement in social and productive activities

Activity theory proposes that to preserve the quality of life, people must maintain or increase their reproductive activities as they transition from middle to old age (Engeström, 2009). Successful aging demands an individual to view the transition from middle to older with fluidity rather than as an abrupt change (Engeström, 2009). The social and psychological needs of an individual are consistent throughout these life stages meaning that the same types of roles and activities should be maintained throughout the aging process so as to fulfill these basic needs. According to activity theory, the variety and quantity of productive roles older adult engage, are directly connected with a smooth transition into old age, feeling of fulfillment and overall happiness (Engeström, 2009). This theory correlates an individual’s volume of activity with success in aging and suggests that to preserve the quality of life as one transition from middle to older age, the individual must seek to continue or even increase physical, social and intellectual engagement.

Adoption of subjective sense of life satisfaction

A sense of satisfaction consist of five elements: positive emotion; engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplish (Seligman, 2011). Positive emotions enhance a person’s subjective experience as well broadening one’s mind and developing one’s resources for the future. Engagement is concern about the experience of flow. Flow is an optimal state of being where one is completely involved in the task at hand: self-consciousness fades, sense of time disappears, and emotions cease to occupy the mind. People with positive relationship live longer, have better health, have positive emotion, feel a greater sense of meaning and satisfaction at work, and can adapt to hardship (Seligman, 2011). Meaning helps people make sense of the world and come to understand their place in it. Accomplishment involves the winning, sense of mastery, success and achievement that people pursue (Seligman, 2011).

Conceptualization of old age as variability than universal decline

Changes of life in old age are often connected with losses such as the decline of health and loss of loved (Erikson, 1982). The changes involve adapting to challenges that are within a person’ control or beyond it. Erikson’s psychodynamic theory outlines the process of human growth from birth to old age. The eight stages of the model include infancy (reliance vs distrust); early childhood (freedom vs disgrace); preschool (creativity vs. guiltiness); childhood (hard work vs. subordination); adolescences (personal identity vs confusion of role); early Adulthood (closeness vs. disengagement); mid-adulthood (productivity vs. inactivity); late adulthood (despair vs integrity) (Erikson, 1982). The mastering of one stage determines the success or failure of the next stage. The old age have the dichotomy of integrity and despair since they have accomplished the highest stage of maturity.

Phases of Grief

Numbness represents the first phase of grief, categorized by a blunting feelings and state of shock (Bowlby, 1961). The trauma of a multitude of changes causes people to be unable to understand the situation that surrounds them. The second phase, described as yearning, searching and anger, represents the disequilibrium experienced following a loss (Bowlby, 1961). A strong desire for the deceased leads to crying and anger due to the impossibility of the wish. The third phase of grief, the disorganization and despair, represents the acceptance of the loss and associated distress (Bowlby, 1961). The loss of a loved one generates some persona; shifts and the people must redefine themselves. This period is often accompanied by a sense of hopelessness and despair. The final phase of involves reorganization and recovery (Bowlby, 1961). The person may make sense of the loss and able to adapt to life without the attachment figure.


Atchley, R. C., & Amanda, B. S. (2004). Social forces and aging (10th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth.

Bowlby, J. (1961). Processes of mourning. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 42, 317-340.

Engeström, Y. (2009). The future of activity theory: A rough draft. In A. Sannino, H. Daniels, & K.D. Gutiérrez (Eds.), Learning and expanding with activity theory (pp. 303-328). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Erikson, E. H. (1982). The Life Cycle Completed: A review. New York: Norton

Hertzman, C., & Power, C. (2003). Health and human development: Understandings from life-course research. Developmental Neuropsychology, 24(2&3), 719-744.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York, NY: Atria Paperback.

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