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Friday, December 1, 2023

Remaining engaged with meaningful activities important as we get older – new research

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New Flinders University research confirms later life can be a rich and fulfilling time, particularly if there is social-community engagement and meaning to every day activity.

“Some of the most interesting and challenging pastimes can be low cost or free, and it’s important we continue to be flexible in the activities we choose and to adapt in ways that let us make use of our strengths without overtaxing our resources,” Flinders University Associate Professor Tim Windsor says.

“Remaining engaged with meaningful activities as we get older is an important part of ageing well,” he stresses in a new paper published in the Journals of Gerontology Series B – Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

International experts led by Flinders University studied the day-today activities of 73 adults aged 89 years on average, and assessed whether older participants reported more positive emotions at times when they rated their activities as more personally meaningful.

The Australian Daily Life Time-Sampling module of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging asked about a range of regular pastimes such as:

  • Social activities (meeting friends, talking to family, going to a senior citizen centre, etc.)
  • Physical activities/health (going on a walk, gardening and exercising)
  • Home management (housework, cooking and shopping)
  • Activities with a cognitive focus (crossword puzzles, reading and finance management)
  • Self care (body care, resting/napping, eating and physician’s visits)
  • Productive activities (helping others and volunteering)
  • Leisure activities (watching TV and listening to music).

“In all, no matter what people chose, respondents expressed a strong emotional connection to activities which still present them with achievable challenges,” Flinders University Emeritus Professor Mary Luszcz, who has led the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing, says.

“As our western populations age, it’s important our service and volunteer organisations allow for different levels of engagement.”      

The article, Conscientiousness, Activity Engagement and Momentary Affect in Oldest-Old Adulthood has been published in The Journal of Gerontology B.

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