In this learning object you are introduced to the importance of seeing later life as one phase of an entire course of life from birth to death shaped by earlier life stages and experiences. Meaning and identity are important to mental health in later life and require that we can connect past, present and future in our lives. A highly influential theory of the life course which embodies these themes is the psychosocial theory of Erik Erikson, which you will consider in Section 2.
A life course approach suggests that in order to understand and work effectively with older people we need to see them in the context of their past lives, taking a life story or biographical approach, or through reminiscence. You will consider these approaches in Section 4. This object also contains a self-assessment section where you can test how far you have assimilated the key messages from this learning object.