The Ninth Stage of Life: Aging with Enthusiasm


Views: 184

  • Title: The Ninth Stage of Life: Aging with Enthusiasm
  • Author(s): Alan Swope
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Aging & Social Change
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Aging and Society
  • Keywords: Life Stages, Eriksonian Stages, Positive Aging, Aging and Society
  • Volume: 6
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2016
  • ISSN: 2160-1909 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2160-1917 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Swope, Alan. 2016. "The Ninth Stage of Life: Aging with Enthusiasm." The International Journal of Aging and Society 6 (3): 29-34. doi:10.18848/2160-1909/CGP/v06i03/29-34.
  • Extent: 6 pages


A new stage has been added to the human life cycle due to increasing numbers of the very old. In particular, adults over eighty constitute a new focus for developmental research. These older adults seem to have reached a stage beyond Erikson’s eight stages, first proposed sixty-four years ago. As Joan Erikson suggested, eight stages no longer capture the end of life concerns of this older group. In this paper, I review the research focusing on the self-reports of individuals who are still thriving in their eighties and nineties. I suggest that this research supports a ninth Eriksonian life stage. This ninth stage might be called “Appreciation versus Resignation with the associated strength, Enthusiasm.” A defining aspect of the elders described in the studies cited below is that they express a keen appreciation for their extended years and a determination not to squander them. I discuss implications for practice and for further research.