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As the older adult goes through life, they may begin to think about how they lived their lives and was it worthwhile. In the next paragraphs I will summarize Erickson’s theory of ego integrity vs. despair in the older adult. This theory is the last stage of eight that I would describe as an overview of life through the eyes of an adult in late adulthood. “The ultimate goal is to overcome the last stage of developmental crisis, integrity versus despair, to achieve wisdom” (Perry, Hassevoort, Ruggiano & Shtompel, 2014). Having the feeling that most of the right choices were made, does not mean you had a perfect life. It just means you feel at peace with where you are as you come closer to death. I have had some experiences with both sides, when I worked in hospice. It is truly wonderful, when you patient tell you not to worry about them because they lived a good life. I have also had patients tell me not to make the same mistakes they did, because you can’t take it back. Each and every person will have a different view of life that will be their reality.
Around the age of 65 years old to the time of death an older adult is considered to be in the final stage of Erickson’s stage theory. This is the last stage, where if asked the older adult will be able to tell you how they viewed the life they lived. Some will be satisfied with the choices they made and the outcomes, while others will wish to “turn back the hands of time”. This stage is not the easiest stage, because some may find it too challenging to cope with things they cannot change. In late adulthood, when individuals have lots of free time, death of their spouse or death among friends or people in their age groups that they knew. In this moment they may begin to ponder on how they lived their lives when they were younger and was it their best.
Erikson looks at development across the whole lifespan. With ego integrity, the older adults tend to be pleased with their achievements even with some up and downs. They will enter the last phase more content or even feeling like they accomplished a lot. I see this lot in my own parents, who often tell me that they are happy with their choice to move to Florida, because it opened even more doors for them. In Contrast, older adults who experience despair are displeased with how their life choices turned out.
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