The finding, which was presented at the British Psychological Society in Harrogate, came from a new study by University of Greenwich psychologist Dr. Oliver Robinson, who explained that the crisis can have either positive or negative outcomes on their well-being.
Dr Oliver Robinson said:
"The findings suggest that the 60-69 decade is a key time for developmental crisis and this should be the focus of continued research."
A total of 282 volunteers over the age of 60 were involved in the first phase of the study who were asked to fill out an online survey that evaluated the perceived impact of crisis.
Results showed that since the age of sixty, 32% of males and 33% of females reported having had a crisis.
The most common feature of these crisis episodes was bereavement, followed by:
- injury to themselves or to others
- caring for a sick or disabled loved one
A previous study showed that grieving is not only one feeling, but a whole series of feelings that take a long time to get through and can't be rushed.
The stressful life event makes the individual aware of their own frailty and death. A person's previous desires and values are reevaluated during a later life crisis, and the outcome of this reevaluation can take several forms.
Some people were positive and reacted with resilience and set new goals to accomplish, while others centered more on the present, grateful for every day they had, and tried to enjoy life more than they did prior.
In order to prevent disappointment, some people avoid making any plans or goals, retreat from the world, and progressively isolate themselves.
Although this range of reactions indicates that later life crisis is always transformative, this transformation can result in either growth or decline.
Dr Robinson concluded:
"It seems that when loss-inducing events occur together or in close proximity in time, a person's capacity to cope in their sixties is overwhelmed and a later life crisis is precipitated. By better understanding such crisis episodes, psychologists are well placed to understand mental health problems in this age group, which may well be affected by the events of a crisis. They will also be better placed offer help to promote positive post-crisis growth."
Written by Sarah Glynn