The Ninth Stage of Life: Aging with Enthusiasm

By Alan Swope.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 16, 2016 Free Download

A new stage has been added to the human life cycle due to increasing numbers of the very old. In particular, adults over eighty constitute a new focus for developmental research. These older adults seem to have reached a stage beyond Erikson’s eight stages, first proposed sixty-four years ago. As Joan Erikson suggested, eight stages no longer capture the end of life concerns of this older group. In this paper, I review the research focusing on the self-reports of individuals who are still thriving in their eighties and nineties. I suggest that this research supports a ninth Eriksonian life stage. This ninth stage might be called “Appreciation versus Resignation with the associated strength, Enthusiasm.” A defining aspect of the elders described in the studies cited below is that they express a keen appreciation for their extended years and a determination not to squander them. I discuss implications for practice and for further research.

Keywords: Life Stages, Eriksonian Stages, Positive Aging, Aging and Society

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, September 2016, pp.29-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 16, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 574.408KB)).

Prof. Alan Swope

Professor, Clinical Psychology, California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University, San Francisco, California, USA