Life Engagement and Aging Well
As the world’s population continues to grow older, defining what it means to age well is of increasing importance. The past two decades have seen a shift from viewing aging well as merely the absence of disease to a focus on growth and maintaining vitality in later life. This shift in thinking has resulted in gerontologists emphasizing the importance of participating in purposeful activity through late life. An important early contribution to notions of aging well was made by researchers Rowe and Kahn (“Successful Aging”, c1997) who proposed that active engagement with life, and not just the maintenance of cognitive and physical functioning and the absence of disease, is a cornerstone of aging well. The authors defined engagement with life as including both supportive social relationships (relationships that provide both instrumental and emotional support) and the maintenance of participation in personally meaningful activities. The importance of ongoing engagement into later life is further highlighted in the World Health Organization’s (2017) plan of action on aging and health, where it is noted that: Older people participate in, and contribute to, society in many ways, including as mentors, caregivers, artists, consumers, innovators, entrepreneurs and members of the workforce. This social engagement may in turn reinforce the health and well-being of older people themselves.
How do you stay “engaged” in life?
How does your faith guide your activities?
What can the Church do for you to inspire your engagement?