Normal psychological aging
It is important to remember that healthy psychological functioning is the norm. Most people are healthy and adequately well functioning in all areas of living. Among people 18 to 64 years old, only 16% show any mental disorder in a given year. The most common are anxiety disorders and substance abuse problems. Among people age 65 and over, only 12% show any mental disorder in a given year. The most common disorder in this age range is dementia.
In the area of thinking ability (“cognition”), adults continue to enlarge their fund of knowledge, and they slowly acquire wisdom, well into late middle age. The intellectual declines of later life are gradual and not debilitating.
Socially, adults participate in ongoing, reciprocal, and satisfying relationships with friends, relatives, neighbors, and coworkers.
Emotionally, they report solidly positive morale and self-esteem. They are free of debilitating emotional pain. They are kind and forgiving to themselves and to others. They assume positive intentions in others. They understand that each stage of life has its own challenges and pleasures, strengths and weaknesses, and they allow people to be in their own age-appropriate stage.