Successful Aging in the Context of the Disablement Process: Working and Volunteering as Moderators on the Association Between Chronic Conditions and Subsequent Functional Limitations

Ben Lennox Kail, Dawn C. Carr
2016 The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences  
Objectives: This study evaluated the successful aging model by assessing the impact of two forms of productive engagement-working and volunteering-as potential interventions in the process of disablement. Method: The Health and Retirement Study was used to (a) estimate two-stage selection equations of (i) currently working part time and full time and (ii) currently volunteering less than 100 hours and volunteering 100 hours or more per year (net of chronic health problems) and (b) assess
more » ... d (b) assess whether, net of selection, working, and volunteering moderate the association between chronic conditions and subsequent functional limitations. Results: Chronic conditions were associated with elevated levels of subsequent functional limitations, whereas both working and volunteering were associated with lower levels of subsequent functional limitations. Moreover, workers and volunteers of less than 100 hours per year experienced a reduction in the association of chronic conditions on subsequent functional limitations. Discussion: This research highlights the role of productive engagement as a key element in successful aging. Not only do work and volunteering have direct associations with health outcomes themselves, but they also act as potential interventions in the process of disablement by attenuating the way in which chronic conditions are translated into subsequent functional limitations. This suggests that (a) future research should apply successful aging models to health processes as well as health outcomes and (b) policy makers should support social institutions that foster late-life productive engagement.
doi:10.1093/geronb/gbw060 pmid:27225973 fatcat:y6xmbntn7beolpda6oyus2wyhi