Middle adulthood: what it is, its characteristics and how it affects us

Middle adulthood, also known as middle age, is the period between 40 and 65 years, after the onset of adulthood and before the end of adulthood.

This period is characterized by being less vigorous than previous periods, but also by a more stable life, the formation of a family and a well-established career.

There are several characteristics that stand out in middle-aged people and we will look at them in detail below.

    What is intermediate adulthood?

    Intermediate or middle-aged adulthood is the period between young age and late adulthood, or what is the same, young adulthood and old age. As with all other stages of life, there is a debate about when to start and when to end. as a rule, it is considered to be 40 to 65 years old.

    In general, this step has not been studied as much as the previous ones. Middle adulthood has not received as much attention in research as childhood and adolescence. However, in recent decades, experts have become increasingly concerned with the changes that took place throughout the Middle Ages, especially as life expectancy increased in developed countries.

    Among the most important aspects of the lives of people in mid-adulthood are his professional career, the care and education of his children and the preparation for his future retirement.

      Physical and psychological characteristics

      Some notable characteristics and aspects of middle age include:

      Physical characteristics

      Between 40 and 65, signs of aging appear. Most people reach middle age with certain characteristics that show they are approaching old age, although these are not necessarily symptoms of illness or health problems, but rather signs that the years have passed. pass.

      It is around the age of 40 that the sensory organs begin to lose their sharpness and vision and hearing aids, such as glasses for tired eyes or hearing aids, should be used to increase. the volume of sounds. The exterior appearance also changes, with the appearance of certain signs of aging, such as less smooth skin, wrinkles or age-related spots. The hair will have been cheated, and in many men and some women alopecia will develop.

      In terms of energy levels, it is normal for middle-aged people to be less vigorous than when they were young. In some cases, they begin to notice joint pain, less strength in the limbs, and more general fatigue.

        Psychological characteristics

        For a long time, developmental psychology believed that intelligence and cognitive abilities in general reached their peak around the age of 20, and from then on they began to worsen beyond repair. This belief has been called into question as more and more research has been conducted on this issue and the idea of ​​fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence has been conceived.

        It is true that as we age, certain abilities, such as memory, attention and orientation, are reduced. that doesn’t mean you’re less intelligent in general. The original belief that when you grow up you are less intelligent was due to the fact that only fluid intelligence was taken into account, that which is used to solve new problems with varying degrees of success, and it was discovered in the 60s that the peak of this capacity is in the 1920s.

        However, it should be noted that crystallized intelligence develops throughout life, as long as there is no neurological disorder. This type of intelligence is defined as the ability which relates to the acquisition of knowledge throughout life and the degree of mastery of its application. This could be understood as synonymous with experience and wisdom, and because people over 40 have lived longer than in their twenties, they have more knowledge and therefore more crystallized intelligence.

        And it’s because they have more life experience that middle-aged adults tend to show more self-confidence than when they were young. Having had many experiences and a better understanding of how the world works makes them more confident, as well as understanding their true abilities and knowing in which situations they will have no problem exposing them.

        But you can’t ignore it either it is at the beginning of this stage that some individuals begin to show certain difficulties. Overcoming the 40-year psychological barrier often leads to a period of identity uncertainty, known as the midlife crisis. This crisis is characterized by intense stress caused by the person realizing that they have not reached some of the vital goals and that they are already halfway through their life.

        The crisis of the 1940s makes some people want to relive their best years of youth. This manifests as a change in style and behavior in general, wearing new clothes, signing up for risky activities or trying to get along with younger ones, and even trying to befriend children. . While these behaviors should not be considered pathological, they can be interpreted as symptoms associated with a process of finding a new identity, also called “middlescence” or “middlescence” in English.

          Physiological changes

          As we have seen previously, the body exhibits a number of changes during the early stages and during middle age. In fact, this is the aspect that changes the most in people in their mid-adulthood. As the body ages, certain vital functions begin to deteriorate and cause certain problems, which can be more or less serious depending on the lifestyle, habits and genetics of each individual.

          It should be noted that development experts distinguish between primary and secondary aging. Primary would have to do with all the age-related changes that are inevitable and are the same for everyone; while high school would be what would make the difference between some people and others, linked to having led an unhealthy lifestyle or having a genetic disease that makes aging more or less pronounced.

          The symptoms of primary aging include mild circulatory problems, lower levels of certain hormones like testosterone, some loss of muscle and bone mass… In the case of secondary aging, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet and consumption harmful substances can lead to serious such as advanced sarcopenia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer.

          For these reasons, whether it is already important to take care of health during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood to prevent long-term problems from developing, the arrival of mid-adulthood is even more so. It may be a little late, but not enough to avoid bigger problems.

            Sexuality and relationships

            Sexuality, of course, has its peculiarities in mid-adulthood. Sexual desire continues to be intense, but it is not as high as that which occurs during young age. As they get older and get closer to old age, people experience less and less desire for sex, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely lost.

            Sex is still appreciated, but its intensity and frequency are less and it is experienced differently. Both men and women have more self-confidence, due to their life experiences and greater maturity, they enjoy their own sexuality less passionately but deeper in middle age.

            However, it must be said that there may be certain problems associated with middle age that hinder the pleasure of sex, or make sex with the partner directly impossible. One of these issues is loss of privacy, linked to excessive workload, lack of loneliness for the couple due to having to care for children, or high stress levels.

            On the other hand, it should also be mentioned that other more physiological problems can arise that prevent you from fully living your sex life. Among them we can find the lack of erections, difficulty in lubricating naturally, even a premature loss of libido. Fortunately, all of these physiological difficulties, as well as those of a more relational and psychological nature, can be resolved by contacting a specialized professional, such as a partner psychologist or a doctor.

            Finally, we must mention the relational aspect. Unlike the previous period, middle-aged people seek some stability in emotional relationships. This is a trend that is generally suggested in the early thirties, a decade in which people are no longer so interested in having the maximum number of sexual partners and are looking for the last one, the one to spend the rest of their life with and start a family, at least in most cases.


              Thanks to advances in biomedicine and improved quality of life in developed countries, life expectancy has increased. People living in the West and other welfare states like Japan have foods available to them that meet their nutritional needs, which allows them to live longer. Outraged, there is a growing awareness of the importance of taking care of health through a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, and levitating unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking alcohol.

              It doesn’t just translate into this people live longer, but they also look younger. In popular culture it is often said that the 40s are the new 30s and so on with the rest of the age groups and that has its reason for being. It is not uncommon to find people who look up to 10 years younger, not only physically or physiologically but also psychologically.

              Bibliographical references

              • Crain, W. (2011). Erikson and the eight stages of life. Development Theories: Concepts and Applications. Boston: Pearson.
              • Berger, KS (2001). Developmental psychology: adulthood and old age. Madrid: Editorial Médica Panamericana, SA
              • Jaramillo, J. (2013). Moral development of young and intermediate adults [Mensaje en un blog]. Retrieved from http://desenvolupamentmoraldeladult.blogspot.com/
              • Papalia, D .; Wendkos, S .; Duskin, R. (2005). Psychosocial development in mid-adulthood. Human Development. Mexico: McGraw Hill.

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