Theories of Human Development Across the Life Span

As a social worker, you will never have the privilege of seeing a client grow and evolve over the entire length of their life. Even if you do work with a client for a long time, you won’t witness their evolution firsthand; rather, the client will convey to you what they are experiencing. For the purposes of the HBSE I and II courses, though, you have gotten this front-row seat into someone else’s life. You have seen Ray navigate hardship in childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle adulthood, and now later adulthood. You have seen him find a sense of joy and meaning.

Through Ray’s case, you can refine your application of human development theories in the context of an aging client who has lived a full life. For this Discussion, you do just that, selecting a theory and examining how it illuminates Ray’s life.

Post your application of a theory of human development to Ray’s life. How does the theory deepen your understanding of Ray’s experience? How might this application of theory assist you as a social worker engaging with Ray? Finally, what does Ray’s example tell you about the human spirit, resiliency, and the capacity to evolve?

Meet Ray: Age 69 to 87

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Meet Ray: Age 69 to 87 Program Transcript NARRATOR: Ray begins to watch more spiritual programming and reconnects with the

Catholic faith. He joins the local church and encourages Yolanda to attend services as

well. Ray volunteers at the church’s thrift shop and at youth events, establishing

friendships with several older men in the church. Engaging in these activities helps

Ray’s psychological functioning and his acceptance of later life.

In his 70s, Ray starts using a wheelchair for mobility. He also begins to forget things

and even leaves the oven on overnight. Yolanda takes Ray to the Aging Center, which

has sliding fee services for neurology. The neurologist determines that Ray has early-

onset dementia that will get progressively worse.

The diagnosis is a major blow to Ray, who understands what this will mean for the rest

of his life. Ray becomes depressed again. More grandchildren are born, and when Ray

is well, he invents silly games to play with them. During gatherings, Ray sits outside and

watches the children, finding fulfillment and peace in the family he has created.

As Ray enters his 80s, full dementia sets in. Ray also experiences sundown syndrome,

in which he becomes agitated and paranoid every day in the late afternoon. He is cared

for by Yolanda, Peter, and Amy, along with his grandchildren, who have complex

emotions as they watch his deterioration. Ray has a peaceful passing at age 87,

surrounded by his wife and children. At his bedside, Yolanda reminisces, saying, “He

was the love of my life.”

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