In the developmental model presented here, the Senior Citizen phase begins in the mid 80’s and extends on to the end of life. There is almost no research on which to base information about this stage of life. Unlike research and information about the developmental stages and needs of childhood and adolescence which is voluminous, the senior citizen enters unknown territory. However, there is good reason to speculate that transcendence is a developmental need at this stage. Transcendence is a purely spiritual need. It is the drawing of consciousness away from the objective world, beyond the boundaries of what is known and understood. It is not avoidance or a withdrawal in the negative sense. Rather, it is moving towards a whole new realm of consciousness; a realm in which all the developmental needs of the mind and the body are of no interest.
Transcendence will only become an emerging need if the previous needs have been satisfied. That means the needs and tasks of the elder adult must have been completed. For that to have happened, the needs and tasks of the middle adult must have been completed and satisfied. For that to happen, all the needs and tasks of the early adult must have been satisfied. And so on all the way back through infancy. In a great majority of the population, needs and tasks from any one stage carry over to the next. The middle adult crisis is a way whereby some of these backlogged needs are acknowledged and satisfied. Still, most elder adults continue to be impacted by the forces and drives of earlier stages such as the needs of industriousness, competency, identity and intimacy. Consequently, it is rare to find an elder adult who can integrate their experiences without some regrets and some despair. It is even rarer to find an elder adult beginning to feel the stirrings of a need for transcendence and understand that need in the positive light of spiritual development.
There is little the senior citizen need do. Transcendence is a conscious, willing relinquishment of all that is known. Perhaps the best advice is simply “let go.” Although the body may continue to function and the mind may continue to perceive, both are deteriorating. Consciousness can now “relax” into itself freed from its attachment to the conceptualizations and images of the mind and the corporeal drives of the body. There are no longer psycho–emotional needs or bio–physical forces demanding attention. There is only the utter simplicity and nakedness of being. There can be an overwhelming sense of fulfillment – and freedom.