Engaged as We Age—Issue Brief
by Jacquelyn B. James, Elyssa Besen, Christina Matz-Costa & Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes
February 2010—Older adults are productively involved in society, contributing over $160 billion a year to the gross national product. Yet antiquated perceptions regarding older adults and retirement could be keeping these contributions artificially low. The negative stereotypes that create barriers for older adults can impede engagement in a variety of activities, including:
- age-specific volunteer opportunities;
- availability of adequate training;
- available transportation; and
- the skill level required of volunteer work.
Looking more closely, already 80% of adults aged 65-74 years and 60% of adults aged 75+ are involved in four key activities: work, volunteering, caregiving, and education or "lifelong learning." In addition, 30% of older adults devote some time to formal volunteer activity.
The longevity revolution and the current economic climate are leading to new views of older adults and the retirement years. Older adulthood, it turns out, transcends infirmity, leisure, and disengagement from work and society. Adults remain engaged in life.
The new view of aging articulates, specifically, how older adults’ activities can be perceived as successful, productive and meaningful.