At the beginning of the twentieth century concepts that encompassed old age such as retirement did not exist; life expectancy was only 50.7 years for women and 47.9 for men. Today, in the twenty first century it is close to the 80s for women and 73 years for men. This creates a new stage of life span that needs to be addressed. Certain questions spring up along this new stage of human development such as financial security, health issues, and spiritual well being.
The roles, which have been predominant in a person's life, are still important, at this late stage in life. Marriage is the most important one. Research shows that one's marital status contributes generously to the questions mentioned before. People tend to live longer, have stable finances and display a genuine harmony in their life . The evolution of the parenting role or "empty nest" syndrome can impact the psychological well being of the older individual. Un like a divorce or a job change there are no nice ways to be " relieved of your duties as a parent", it just happens. Out living one's "nest egg" is another major concern of a retired individual. Most are living off of a fixed income of some sort. The anxiety caused by this uncertainty can lead to feelings of stress. The acceptance of one's own life cycle and the individuals, who have become significant to it, is the key to fulfillment. According to Erik Erickson, individuals are either happy with what they did in life or are faced with hopelessness. This stage of psychosocial development is called Integrity vs. Despair. Sigmund Freud also had a stage of psychosexual development he labeled Adulthood or the Genital stage, where the goal of a good life was to love and work well.
Another facet facing an older individual is the condition of their physical health. Once one reaches the later stages in life declines in health or diminished abilities can be expected. It is said that the first symptom of old age is a loss of memory and I forget the rest.