“Developmental stages in life are characterized by sets of oppositional tasks that need to be completed so the individual can move on to the next stage. These tasks are the drivers of personality growth, the internal engine that propels a person forward. These stages and their tasks are well documented in children and teenagers. Their identification and impact on the development in old age have only recently been understood.”
From Unlocking the Communication Code Seniors
The developmental tasks of a life stage offer important insights into the perspective, behavior, and priorities of its cohort. They help us decode the purpose and meaning of what we are experiencing with members of this life stage group and understand the unique psychological needs the tasks create.
Below is a diagram I use to explain the shift that older adults are experiencing in the last phase of life. The perspective, behavior, and priorities these new tasks create can be a point of confusion and frustration for families and people work with seniors. I emphasize that older adults are not the person they use to be. They have matured, grown, and moved on. Our job is to understand the details of this transition and explore how we can facilitate and accommodate its process.
Ignoring the new tasks can lead to communication disconnects that look like this: