By James E Spar; Asenath La Rue

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Those individuals with an internal locus of control adjust best if given an opportunity to participate in medical decision making, whereas those individuals with an external locus of control may benefit more from knowing that they are attended by recognized experts. Those individuals who suspect that their fate depends on chance may adjust best if the care environment is consistent and predictable. Other aspects of personality need to be considered as well. The increased vulnerabilities that accompany old age may amplify neurotic traits, increasing susceptible individuals’ worries about health and making it more difficult to provide reassurance based on objective results.

Among men of similar socioeconomic background, an increase in interpersonal orientation and nurturance in later years is seen. Most contemporary developmental theorists do not propose stage theories but instead emphasize the creative effect on personality of assuming and relinquishing adult roles—most importantly, parenting (Gutmann 1987)— or the dynamic interplay of cognitive processing resources and particular social contexts in shaping expressed personality (Staudinger and Pasupathi 2000). Personality and Perceptions of Health Older adults’ perceptions of their health have been linked to a variety of objective health outcomes, including mortality.

For those with very restricted social resources, therapists must sometimes be willing to provide periodic support on a long-term basis. Being needed by others and making contributions to one’s family or society as a whole are important for maintaining a sense of self-worth. Helping older patients to identify meaningful ways to stay involved, despite changes in physical or mental abilities, can be as important as providing opportunities to mourn the loss of past abilities or social roles. Biological Aging What Is Aging?

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