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Continuity and Adaptation in Aging

, 232 pages

2 b&w illus.

August 2000



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Continuity and Adaptation in Aging

Creating Positive Experiences

Despite the undeniable physical, psychological, and social effects of aging, most older persons cope quite well and find considerable satisfaction in their later years. Part of the explanation for this finding is based on what Robert C. Atchley calls continuity—the ability of older persons to maintain a strong sense of purpose and self in the face of the changes associated with aging. Continuity can help individuals evolve psychologically and socially in the presence of life events such as retirement, widowhood, and physical disability.

Atchley begins with a thorough explanation of continuity theory, identifying important methodological considerations in its evaluation and use. He then looks at evidence for continuity over time in the ways individuals interpret their experiences and make decisions regarding their living arrangements and lifestyles. He examines continuity as a personal goal that most people use to guide their development as individuals. Atchley finds that many aging adults add transcendence as a personal goal in later adulthood. In a concluding chapter, he revisits the basic elements of continuity theory, summarizing the evidence that supports it.

Drawing on data from a twenty-year longitudinal study that began with more than 1,200 individuals, Continuity and Adaptation in Aging explains one of the primary underlying forces that promotes effective adaptation to the aging process. This book will be of interest to researchers and students in gerontology and adult development.

Robert C. Atchley is a professor and chair of the Department of Gerontology at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

"Certain to be a classic in the field and should be in every gerontologist's personal library."

"The wealth of information and the careful consideration of theory development make it invaluable."

"A celebration of the distinguished career of one of the major figures in gerontology. I highly recommend and encourage its adoption in advanced undergraduate and graduate gerontology courses."

"Atchley's presentation of the material is well organized, and the book as a whole is written in a very accessible, sometimes even homespun style."

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