WE VIEW AND DEFINE ACTIVITY AND LEISURE
ACTIVITIES OF COMMON INTEREST
Modifications for Older Adults
WE KNOW ABOUT ACTIVITY AND LEISURE
and Value of Activity
ENVIRONMENT (THE OUTDOORS)
and Older Adults
Learning and Education
HOUSING AND THE ELDERLY
State of Elderly Housing
and Future Elderly Housing Needs
from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity . . . even so does inaction
sap the vigors of the mind."
and quality of life are two concepts tied to successful aging. It is the
of how satisfied we are with life and the quality of our life that
accounts for a positive or negative feeling about life experiences. It
is the daily activities chosen -- or not chosen -- that make up our life
experiences. It is not our intent here to identify all possible activities.
Rather, this section defines activity and leisure, describes how activities
relate to older adults, cites positive aspects of activity, and briefly
summarizes specific activities for older adults. Volunteerism
and Nutrition have their own sections, despite their close relationship
to activity and retirement.
-- Leonardo da Vinci
IT OR LOSE IT."
This saying feels like a cliché, but it has been proven over and
over again to be true. It applies to learning, memory, other mental skills,
physical strength and agility, social relationships and on and on . . .
engaged in life with activities and relationships is directly related to
longevity and life satisfaction. So . . . are there specific activities
that one can do to enhance life? Once again the remarkable differences
across and within populations and individuals account for the need for
a great variety of activities for older adults. For the most part, there
is no "right" or "wrong" activity, if it makes you feel good physically
WE VIEW AND DEFINE ACTIVITY AND LEISURE
Activity is defined
as purposeful, and having an expected outcome. It may be incorporated into
your routine and performed unconsciously or deliberately. Activity is performed
to pass the time, satisfy our interests and/or fulfill our responsibilities.
Family and friends may be included in the activities of obligation and
meaning, such as daily household and family responsibilities. "Work" (for
our purposes) is considered an activity for which we receive payment. (See
Volunteerism, household chores and family caregiving are also examples
of activities. While not monetarily rewarded, they bring meaning and purpose
to our lives. Elements of both play and work may occur in many activities.
is any activity that has great meaning but no purpose."
Other time may be
spent in leisure, activities that are freely chosen. Some consider leisure
activities to be play and recreation. Leisure implies a less serious purpose
without necessarily producing a product or skill. It implies joy, enthusiasm
opportunity and energy. Some view leisure to be the opposite of work, i.e.,
"smelling the roses." We tend to associate leisure with retirement, and
leisure activities may well occur within retirement. They are, however,
often practiced in other areas of one's life. (Please see Work
for more information on retirement).
-- Mark Twain
enough to be busy. The question is: What are we busy about?"
-- Henry David Thoreau
There is almost
an infinite number of activities in which older adults engage. Some of
the more general categories include:
Work (full or part-time
Gardening and flower
Arts and crafts
such as radio or television
that are purposeful, traditional and ritualistic
Education or training
Active or passive
Introverted or extrovert
(Ebersole & Hess, 1995)
usually fulfill a need and often depend on:
(Hooyman & Kiyak, 1996; Ebersole & Hess, 1995)
Age and physical
ability, e.g., increased frailty and increased age are correlated with
decreased time spent in the community
Location, i.e., a
move to congregate housing or institution
i.e., loss of a help mate
of activities for older adults: Activities
may be modified to enhance the performance of an activity. Technology may
make a task easier or actually allow an individual to perform an activity
not otherwise possible.
Devices such as magnifiers
or needle threaders
Foundation has published a book describing many helpful aides, called "assistive
ACTIVITIES OF COMMON INTEREST
activities may encourage social connections for persons with common interests.
These activities bring new dimension, information and meaning into lives.
These may be clubs or groups that meet regularly. Some may target specific
ages. Many national interest groups have local chapters. A search on the
Internet can provide specialized interest groups such as:
Dog rescue programs,
Bridge, card or other
game clubs or groups
Church circles, Bible
study, Sunday school classes
Drama interest groups
School alumni associations
Sorority or fraternity
Web Site offers more ideas for activities. (See also Spirituality
for additional activities).
WE KNOW ABOUT
ACTIVITIES AND LEISURE
"Stay young by continuing
to grow. You do not grow old, you become old by not growing."
-- Wilford A. Peterson
and Value of Activity
Research has documented
the value of activity continued into later life. A few of those benefits
(Northwest Caregiver, 1998)
such as a regular bridge game
Exercise and physical
Hope and enthusiasm
in the future
Self expression or
A sense of responsibility
nurturing and caring roles
Expression of opinion
and the practice of interdependence
Reasons to travel
in and out of communities
fairs, clubs, meals and parties
ACTIVITIES AND OLDER ADULTS
"If it can
be done, it is not a bad practice for a man of many years to die with a
and Older Adults:
-- Carl Sandburg
A majority of older adults are satisfied
with their lives and are seldom bored.
Older persons are likely to maintain their
earlier level of activity -- and often the same activities.
Despite changing opportunities for men
and women, traditional gender roles continue to influence activity patterns.
In retirement older adults spend more time
on each activity.
Planning and preparation make it more likely
for retirees to have a more positive experience.
Older adults wish to remain independent
as long as possible, and able to choose, perform and control the activities
in which they participate.
Social class differences exist in the preferences
for particular activities and the financial ability to engage in
While church is a more common focus of
older adult activity, many perceive that church activities are more oriented
to younger families and so disengage in later years.
Interests and participation in political
activity increases with age.
There are ethnic differences among older
adult activities. For example, African Americans are more likely to spend
time in church, and Italians and Mexicans are apt to spend more time with
their families, than their Scandinavian and English counterparts.
Learning and Education
Late life learning
CAN take place! It's never too late to learn. Attending classes may
enhance skills, improve self care, expose individuals to others with similar
interests, and stimulate thinking. Many persons in the work force are returning
to school at varying levels for many different reasons.
(Ebersole and Hess, 1995)
successful program specifically targeted to older adults is Elder hostel.
The Elder hostel concept grew out of the assumption that older adults wish
to continue learning. Marty Knowlton created the Elder hostel program at
the University of New Hampshire in 1974. It now boasts programs at 2000
institutions in 70 countries.
This program offers
low-cost room and board (scholarships are available in the U.S.) with non-credit
curricula specific to older adults over the age of 55 years (or with a
spouse over 55). It is estimated that approximately 300,000 persons participate
internationally. Some of the many benefits and motivation of Elder hostel
(Ebersole & Hess, 1995)
Opportunity for change,
Low fixed cost
Absence of evaluation
(no test or homework)
Opportunity to develop
new interest or re-explore old ones
Two other programs
specific to older adult learning are:
near Leisure World Laguna Hills, CA, and
The University of
North Carolina Institute of Enrichment, Ashville, NC.
Elder hostel programs
can be located in Kansas City through UMKC, or through the national Elder
In addition, most
public and private Missouri colleges and universities offer adult degree
completion programs where courses are geared more to non-traditional older
students. Scheduling, curricula and faculty are oriented to support this
population of students. A few such universities or colleges convenient
to the Kansas City Metropolitan area include:
Many junior colleges
in the metropolitan Kansas City area offer credit and non-credit courses
of interest to older adults. Please refer to the website for more
Degree (GED) programs, which offer the content, testing and credential
for a high school degree, are available through the mail as well as local
boards of education. Check the catalogues of your own local colleges.
Finishing any level of schooling is a noble accomplishment at any age.
Scott who received her GED at the age of 85 years!
Blue Springs Community
College, 1501 Jefferson, Blue Springs, MO. (816) 655-6000
of Community Colleges, 20101 E. 78 Highway, Independence, MO. (816) 220-6550
500 Longview, Lee Summit, MO. (816) 672-2000
Maple Woods Community
College, 2601 NE Barry Road, KCMO. (816) 437-3000
Penn Valley Community
College, 3201 Southwest Trafficway, KCMO. (816) 759-4000
Many of the County
Park and Recreation organizations also offer non-credit courses of interest.
An emerging learning
project that is gaining great popularity among all ages is the pursuit
of family history or genealogical study. Some persons may be interested
in handing down family information and/or wish to pursue their backgrounds.
The most comprehensive data base is hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints, at: http://www.FamilySearch.org.
National Archives and Records Administration: www.nara.gov/
There is no end to
the variety of individual interests. A web site that offers remarkable
information is the "Information
Please Almanac" which has amassed an amazing collection of trivia which
is well organized. Some topics include sports, entertainment, United States,
people, business and economy, space and technology. This site has special
features such as fact finding, news and a separate area for children, and
it is free. Be aware that a lot of advertising, which supports this site,
is part of the content.
Closer to home,
Federal Genealogical Society (FGS)
met in St. Louis the summer of 1999.
St. Louis Genealogical Society can also be accessed on the internet.
Two other sites
for genealogy records are Ancestry.com
and the Missouri Public Library Systems.
"Finding a way to
live the simple life is today's most complicated problem."
Townsend, in The Virtues of Aging,
-- by Jimmy Carter
- (THE OUTDOORS)
The landscape has
a definite impact on all of us. Changes to the sea or its coastal areas
are occasions for study or observation of sea life. The mountains or the
desert offer hiking opportunities -- as well as animal and plant observation.
As in all other age groups, some older adults will seek higher risk taking
(such as skiing, rigorous mountain climbing, and biking), while others
will seek less active challenges. Some people may look for activities through
their environment by camping, fishing, bird watching, nature walks, hunting
and volunteerism in wildlife initiatives. Some of the many available resources
for these interests may be found in the following:
Department of the
The National Park Service,
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
of Conservation: Burr Oak Woods, Blue Springs, MO (816)228-3766
Creek Wildlife Preserve (660)442-3187
The Older Americans
Act has provided for senior centers which coordinate group trips, offer
assistance (e.g., home delivered or congregate meals), and provide arts
and teleconferencing opportunities. Older adults programs are most successful
at the local level where they accommodate community and cultural needs.
heart doeth good like medicine,
Activities are opening up as retirement time increases. There are several
types of activities involving several generations interacting together
in common purposes. The following are a few of those available:
but a broken spirit
drieth up the bones."
-- Proverbs 17:22
Older adults assisting
children with special needs (developmentally disabled in homes or institutions
Older adults serving
at child day care setting, such as:
Reading to the children
Rocking babies and
Helping develop skills
such as tying shoes
- where an older person adopts a child in need of a grandparent
AND OLDER ADULTS
Part of successful
aging is satisfaction derived from one's living arrangements, location,
and housing. Since this is part of everyday living and many activities
revolve around one's home, it seems natural to discuss the topic of housing
under this section.
information is derived from a recent publication by the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research,
Our Elders - A Report Card on the Housing Conditions and Needs of Older
State of Housing of Older Americans
(For the purposes
of this report, older adults are defined as being over 62 years of age
unless stated otherwise.)
and Future Housing Needs for Older Americans
Almost four of five
older persons in America own their own home. However, after 74 years this
decreases significantly. Older adults in rural America are less likely
to own their homes. However, even in more vulnerable populations such as
women (70%), Hispanic (60%), and African American (65%) populations, the
homeownership rate is over 60%.
Older Americans are
more settled than younger populations. Only 5% of older adults between
65 and 85 years change residences in a given year. They are more likely
to settle in rural locales.
Most elderly persons
live in single-family dwellings. However, disproportionately female and
over 85 years, more than 1.5 million older adults live in nursing home
and other residential care facilities.
Most older Americans
live in older homes and almost all report that they have sufficient living
space and it is generally in good condition.
Older frail and minority
older adults are more likely to have physical problems with their housing.
The problems occur most frequently in older units. Fifty percent of elderly
households may not have the financial resources to repair these problems.
A Census Bureau
survey found that 52% of persons over 65 years had some type of mental
or physical disability. In recognition of the elderly population growth
and likelihood of increasing frailty of advanced age; modifications in
housing will become more necessary.
This calls for
More fully accessible
housing in both rental and owner-occupied homes.
housing conditions such as more flexible housing packages and supportive
services to allow for aging in place.
of alternatives between no assistance and nursing home care.
(funding and programs) to assist older adults to remain in their own homes
More affordable housing
opportunities for older adults with lower incomes.
Improvement of the
coordination among housing and social and health services
Housing and Urban Development, 1999)
whether they be work, travel, religion, household or educational, usually
meet a need and depend on factors such as health, location, family and
time. These may represent a continuation of past interests, control, and
choice in later years. Activities bring meaning and opportunity which keep
older adults engaged and perhaps more likely to age more likely to age
successfully. Church, outdoor, educational and intergenerational activities
are activities that afford older adults newer and satisfying learning opportunities.
Most of our daily activities occur where we live. This provides the positive
or negative setting for successful aging. Older adults own their homes
-- with adequate space in generally good condition -- and are more settled
in single family dwellings. However, the frail, the "old-old", and women
are at greater risk for physical problems, lack of financial resources,
and nursing home placement. As with older workers, elderly housing calls
for greater flexibility, alternatives between independent living and nursing
home care, and greater supports for aging in place. These helps would doubtless
further the chances for successful aging.
Health - Articles for Active Aging - Wake Forest University Baptist
Medical Center. Offers links on remaining healthy in retirement years.
World Online - offers articles and online access to resources for older
adults on travel, entertainment, real estate, romance, finance, etc.
For further relevant
readings, please search: AgeLine,
Webinator: AgeNet Search, or Aging
- Web Search.
for Every Body - provides basic information on "HOW" to create an accessible
garden, and to obtain and safely use enabling garden tools . . . either
through simple modifications of existing tools, or direct purchase of ergonomic
and enabling tools specially designed for those with limitations.
Guide to Independent
Living for People With Arthritis. Published by the Arthritis Foundation,
1314 Spring St., NW, Atlanta, GA 30309.
(1999). Social Forces and Aging. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing
Ebersole, P., and P.
Hess (1995). Toward Healthy Aging. St. Louis, MO: The C. V. Mosby
Hazen, Teresia (1998).
"Therapeutic Gardening - Plant-centered Activities Meet Sensory, Physical,
and Psychosocial Needs,"
Northwest Caregiver. Summer issue.
Hooyman, N.R., &
H.N. Kiyak (1996). Social Gerontology: A Multidisciplinary Perspective.
Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, A Shuster and Shuster Company.
U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development Office of Policy Development and Research, Housing
Our Elders: A Report Card on the Housing Conditions and Needs of Older
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