Successful aging is linked to productive activity, and a substantial proportion of older Americans are remaining productive well into their later years despite the fact that increasing age does take a toll on productive activity, according to a recent study by research scientists at Yale University and the University of Michigan.
The study found that over 90% of older adults do at least some productive activity. The researchers did both cross-sectional comparisons and patterns of change in productive activities of a group of 1,192 men and women aged 70 to 79. The study found that the continuation (or even improvement) in productive activity over time is just what is needed for "successful aging."
Productive activities were measured in five kinds of work - housework, yard work, child care, paid work, and volunteer work. These activities were those commonly engaged in by older people. The study group was divided into two groups: those who were high functioning (successful agers) and those who were low to moderate functioning (usual agers). Men and women in the group were examined separately.
The study found that "successful" agers do a third more housework, twice as much yard work, more than three times more paid work, and nearly four times as much volunteer work compared to "usual" agers. The study found no differences in the care of children in or out of the home. In both groups, women reported doing more housework, child care activities and volunteer work, while men reported doing more yard and paid work.