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Transitions in Aging

Successful Aging

Occupational Well-being and Aging

  • Being older doesn't mean we are unproductive!

NEXT: To Age Well

Notes and References

Working to achieve goals is one way to think about occupational well-being.

If we are active in a job or volunteer position, we are contributing our skills and talents to our environment and our community, which makes us feel good about ourselves.1 Some of us really enjoy the time we spend at our jobs or our volunteering position.2 Being employed or volunteering can promote positive emotional, social, and intellectual well-being. As we age, some of us choose to retire from our work, volunteer position, or other occupational programs. Not being involved in these activities may make us feel less productive. Let's talk about some ways to be occupationally involved even when we are not working at a job anymore.

Retirement doesn't necessarily mean that we have to be removed from the community and stripped of our responsibilities. Retirement can open up opportunities for us to participate in the fun activities we always say we wish we had more time for. One way to spend our time being productive is by participating in day programs. An adult day program offers activities each day that we can participate in. Additionally, we can give back to our community in some way, such as joining a local community volunteering program. In the next module, we will discuss community participation further and offer more information about how to become involved in community activities.

Let's see how Robert improves his occupational well-being. Through participating in his day program, Robert has realized how creative he can be in the art and cooking programs. He knows of some friends that always encourage him to help out at the local homeless shelter and they say they have so much fun. Robert decides to come help the following weekend and he absolutely loves it! He gets to put fruit and vegetable baskets together with nice ribbons. He loves it because he gets to use his creativity and he knows he is helping out others that need it.


  1. Ashman, A. F., Suttie, J. N., & Bramley, J. (1995). Employment, retirement, and elderly persons with an intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 39, 107-115.
  2. Bigby, C., Balandin, S., Fyffe, C., McCubbery, J., & Gordon, M. (2014). Retirement or just a change of pace: An Australian national survey of disability day services used by older people with disabilities. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 29(3), 239-254.


  1. Volunteers of America: