Psychological Impact of Age Normative Physiological Decline on Older Adults

An age normative physiological decline can have significant social and psychological impacts on older adults. The normative physiological decline in late adulthood means deterioration in intellectual function, memory loss, and physical changes that lead to higher rates of diseases and decreased morbidity. During late adulthood several body functions decline including vision and hearing decline, weakening of immunity, deterioration of mobility and muscle strength, and the loss of elasticity (Steverinket al., 2001). Normative psychological decline leads to lower functioning and changes that cause problems such as non-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. The memory degradation during late adulthood also causes older adults to have a hard time attending to and remembering information. It also leads to dementia a neurocognitive disorder that causes a long-term decline in the ability to remember and think.

The rate of normative psychological decline among old adults varies across different countries due to different factors such as food, environment, health, and culture. The United States and most European countries have inconsistent patterns when it comes to psychological decline among old adults and health trends (von Humboldt, et al., 2012). Countries with pronounced demographic changes like Russia, China, and Ukraine have higher rates of psychological decline among old adults. In low-income countries, there is also a high rate of psychological decline among old adults due to a large population that leads to non-communicable diseases and a lack of sufficient health care and healthy food.

I have seen how normative psychological decline can affect the cognitive and social functions of an older adult. My grandfather, having hit 70 last year, experienced some changes that do seem key. One is a general loss of energy — the effort to learn new things, to keep track of current activity in short-term memory, is harder to make. Another is that it is harder for him to concentrate on a single issue and think about it in depth. Attention tends to wander more. In addition, the general physical decline means that more effort has to go into just existing so there is less capacity for abstract considerations.

Several things can be done to ameliorate the normative psychological decline. There are a few tips that apply to that end. They boil down to diet and exercise to maintain the physical substrate and minimize the chances of dementia, and mental practice. Old adults also need to engaging in social activities to make them busy (Jivraj et al., 2014). They should also maintain a diet plan that includes less animal protein, and avoid foods that raise cholesterol. Above all exercise is most important. Anything that elevates the heart rate appreciably for an appropriate time will help but it is useful to address strength and mobility at the same time. Group exercise classes will do that for individuals better than just walking and running.










Jivraj, S., Nazroo, J., Vanhoutte, B., & Chandola, T. (2014). Aging and subjective well-being in later life. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences69(6), 930-941.

Steverink, N., Westerhof, G. J., Bode, C., & Dittmann-Kohli, F. (2001). The personal experience of aging, individual resources, and subjective well-being. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences56(6), P364-P373.

von Humboldt, S., Leal, I., Pimenta, F., & Niculescu, G. (2012). Adjustment to aging, subjective age and age representation: Assessing a nationally-diverse population of older adults. Psychology, Community & Health1(3), 285-299.


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