Early adulthood is a time when people accept who they are and have time to make the most of the opportunities that come their way. This is the time when physical maturity is achieved and their bodies are at their peak of performance. Many adults have babies in their 20s or 30s and some may experience miscarriages or complications that accompany pregnancy. Adults reach the peak of their physical fitness. Regular exercise and eating a balanced diet helps them to keep physically fit.
As people reach their 40s and 50s there is a gradual decline and the aging process causes the body to weaken. Those who take care of their bodies may not notice the decline until later. Age related degeneration also includes loss of elasticity of the skin which causes wrinkles, hearing loss and poorer eyesight. Hair turns grey and men often experience loss of hair causing them to go bald. Normally, between the ages of 45 and 55 a woman’s periods may stop which indicates the beginning of the menopause. Some women may experience menopause when they are much younger age and is referred to as ‘premature menopause’. They are no longer able to have children because of the changes in hormones stop their ovaries from producing eggs, although women have been known to have babies much older than this.
There have been occasions where a woman has been ‘caught out’ at this time and become pregnant because they did not use contraception as they thought their periods had stopped and were no longer capable of getting pregnant Hot sweats and tiredness can also be symptoms that a woman is experiencing the menopause. In men, this can occur slightly later when their hormones reduce sperm production. The risk of disease and disability increases with ageing.
Adulthood is a time when people use and develop their intellectual skills and abilities in their working life. Jobs involve learning new skills and if a person wants to progress they may be involved in taking additional qualifications to support the work they do. Others may be interested in changing the direction of their career and need to have different qualifications to meet the requirements. It is recognised that most adults will have several different jobs in their working life and therefore they will update their skills and develop new ones. ‘Lifelong learning’ is generally accepted by everyone as a feature of their working lives.
Outside the work environment, adults may learn and develop new skills through their personal lives. Taking up a new hobby or interest requires learning new skills. Living independently in their own home requires the ability to cook, manage the home and budget their money to meet essential expenses. Raising children and looking after dependents also involves learning new skills to meet their needs.
As time progresses adults may find that their reaction times to different situations become slightly slower and they find it harder to remember things. Knowledge and understanding which have been developed through previous personal experiences are often used to help them make informed decisions.
Adults have to be able to handle a range of different emotions. When young people first enter adulthood, they may find it difficult to control their emotions. It is recognised that on the whole, how individuals manage their emotions as an adult is partially affected by earlier (not necessarily infancy) experiences. They may find it hard to cope with the problems and challenges they are faced with like leaving home, starting work, starting a family, redundancy or the death of a loved one. To many it is like being on a huge roller coaster where the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ are such that they do not know what to do. High levels of self-esteem are often experienced when they start their first job, however they may also feel a sense of insecurity and fear of the unknown.
Confidence usually develops to a