Aging Well in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities

Gail M. Williamson and Juliette Christie

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology

Second edition

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195187243
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
Aging Well in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities

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Contrary to popular belief, the majority of adults over the age of 65 are physically and psychologically healthy. They are not cognitively deficient, socially isolated, or lonely, nor do they drain society's resources. They are aging well, and to the extent that they are able to engage in valued activities, they will continue to do so. A key component of adapting to growing older is the ability to maintain the sense of personal control that can be threatened by normal aging processes. The Activity Restriction Model of Depressed Affect proposes that to age successfully is to maintain physical and cognitive functioning via engagement in personally meaningful activities. Indeed, activity restriction—or the inability to continue normal activities that often follows stressful life events such as debilitating illness—is a major factor in poorer mental health outcomes. Potential contributors to activity restriction and depression are identified. Interventions to reduce activity restriction in older adults should focus on promoting manageable activities, taking into consideration individual differences in functional, psychological, and social resources.

Keywords: activity restriction; depression; older adults; physical functioning; successful aging

Article.  3249 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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