A day in the lives of older adults: what makes them happy?
Tina Kavčič & Andreja Avsec
Abstract: The aim of the present study was to examine how older adults (N = 84; 51 females; aged 65 to 91 years) in Slovenia spend their time and what they experience throughout the day. The contribution of these activities and their experiences to participants’ subjective well-being was also explored. Using the Day Reconstruction Method, the participants reported how much time during the preceding day they spent in different activities, the level of hedonia (presence of positive and absence of negative emotionality) and eudaimonia (meaning, focus, usefulness) experienced during each activity in the past day, and their general satisfaction with the day. In addition, they assessed their overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Vast individual differences in time-use and in subjective perceptions of various activities were revealed. Overall, certain activities were related to older adults’ well-being, although it seems that subjective perceptions of activities are more important than activities themselves.
Keywords: late adulthood, Day Reconstruction Method, eudaimonic experiences, hedonic experiences, well-being
Kavčič, T., & Avsec, A. (2018). A day in the lives of older adults: what makes them happy? Psihološka obzorja, 27, 51–60. https://doi.org/10.20419/2018.27.485
Achat, H., Kawachi, I., Spiro, A., DeMolles, D. A., & Sparrow, D. (2000). Optimism and depression as predictors of physical and mental health functioning: The Normative Aging Study. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 22(2), 127–130. CrossRef
Butler, R. N. (1987). Ageism. In G. L. Maddox (Ed.), The encyclopedia of aging (pp. 38–39). New York, NY, USA: Springer.
Depp, C. A., Schkade, D. A., Thompson, W. K., & Jeste, D. V. (2010). Age, affective experience, and television use. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 39(2), 173–178. CrossRef
Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542–575. CrossRef
Diener, E., Kesebir, P., & Lucas, R. (2008). Benefits of accounts of well-being—for societies and for psychological science. Applied Psychology, 57(s1), 37–53. CrossRef
Diener, E., & Tay, L. (2014). Review of The Day Reconstruction Method (DRM). Social Indicators Research, 116(1), 255–267. CrossRef
Eurostat (2003). Time use at different stages of life: Results from 13 European countries. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/3888793/5817325/KS-CC-03-001-EN.PDF/75b40b96-710d-CrossRef
Folkman, S. (1997). Positive psychological states and coping with severe stress. Social Science & Medicine, 45, 1207–1221. CrossRef
Gauthier, A. H., & Smeeding, T. M. (2003). Time use at older ages: Cross-national differences. Research on Aging, 25(3), 247–274. CrossRef
Grimm, C., Kemp, S., & Jose, P. E. (2015). Orientations to happiness and the experience of everyday activities. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(3), 207–218. CrossRef
Heo, J., Lee, Y., Kim, B., & Chun, S. (2012). Contribution of relaxation on the subjective well-being of older adults. Activities, Adaptation & Aging, 36(1), 1–10. CrossRef
Herero, V. G., & Extremera, N. (2010). Daily life activities as mediators of the relationship between personality variables and subjective well-being among older adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 124–129. CrossRef
Herzog, A., Franks, M. M., Markus, H. R., & Holmberg, D. (1998). Activities and well-being in older age: Effects of self-concept and educational attainment. Psychology and Aging, 13(2), 179–185. CrossRef
Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D. A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2004a). The Day Reconstruction Method (DRM): Instrument Documentation. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/download/39604078/The_Day_Reconstruction_Method_drm_Inst20151102-4520-qpcnzk.pdf
Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D. A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2004b). A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: The Day Reconstruction Method. Science, 306(5702), 1776–1780. CrossRef
Keyes, C. L. M. (1998). Social well-being. Social Psychology Quarterly, 121–140. CrossRef
Keyes, C. L. M. (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43, 207–222. CrossRef
Keyes, C. L. M. (2009). Mental Health Continuum – Long Form. In J. Magyae-Moe (Ed.), Therapist's guide to positive psychological interventions (pp. 30–33). San Diego, CA, USA: Elsevier Academic Press.
Lamont, R. A., Swift, H. J., & Abrams, D. (2015). A review and meta-analysis of age-based stereotype threat: Negative stereotypes, not facts, do the damage. Psychology and Aging, 30(1), 180–193. CrossRef
Lemon, B. W., Bengtson, V. L., & Peterson, J. A. (1972). An exploration of the activity theory of aging: Activity types and life satisfaction among in-movers to a retirement community. Journal of Gerontology, 27(4), 511–523. CrossRef
Levy, B. R., Slade, M. D., Kunkel, S. R., & Kasl, S.V. (2002). Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 261–270. CrossRef
Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803–855. CrossRef
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111–131. CrossRef
Maltby, J., Day, L., & Barber, L. (2005). Forgiveness and happiness: The differing contexts of forgiveness using the distinction between hedonic and eudaimonic happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6(1), 1–13. CrossRef
McKenna, K., Broome, K., & Liddle, J. (2007). What older people do: Time use and exploring the link between role participation and life satisfaction in people aged 65 years and over. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 54(4), 273–284. CrossRef
McMunn, A., Nazroo, J., Wahrendorf, M., Breeze, E., & Zaninotto, P. (2009). Participation in socially-productive activities, reciprocity and wellbeing in later life: Baseline results in England. Ageing & Society, 29(5), 765–782. CrossRef
Menec, V. H. (2003). The relation between everyday activities and successful aging: A 6-year longitudinal study. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 58(2), S74–S82.
Mroczek, D. K., & Kolarz, C. M. (1998). The effect of age on positive and negative affect: A developmental perspective on happiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1333–1349. CrossRef
Nelson, T. D. (Ed.) (2004). Ageism: Stereotyping and prejudice against older persons. Massachusetts, MA: MIT Press.
Oerlemans, W. G., & Bakker, A. B. (2014). Why extraverts are happier: A day reconstruction study. Journal of Research in Personality, 50, 11–22. CrossRef
Oerlemans, W. G., Bakker, A. B., & Veenhoven, R. (2011). Finding the key to happy aging: A day reconstruction study of happiness. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 66, 665–674. CrossRef
Ong, A. D., Mroczek, D. K., & Riffin, C. (2011). The health significance of positive emotions in adulthood and later life. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5(8), 538–551. CrossRef
Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. (2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: The full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6(1), 25–41. CrossRef
Petrič, M. (2014). Napovedniki Keyesovega modela duševnega zdravja pri starostnikih [Predictors of Keyes' model of mental health in older adults] (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana.
Petrič, M., & Zupančič, M. (2012). Ukvarjanje s prostočasnimi dejavnostmi v pozni odraslosti [Occupation with leisure activity in late adulthood]. Good Quality of Old Age, 15(2), 13–27.
Petrič, M., & Zupančič, M. (2016). Prostočasne dejavnosti in mladostno počutje starejših [Leisure activities and youthful feel-age in elderly adults]. Good Quality of Old Age, 19(3), 20–31.
Pushkar, D., Chaikelson, J., Conway, M., Etezadi, J., Giannopoulus, C., Li, K., & Wrosch, C. (2010). Testing continuity and activity variables as predictors of positive and negative affect in retirement. Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 65(1), 42–49. CrossRef
Reis, H. T., Sheldon, K. M., Gable, S., Roscoe, J., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). Daily well-being: The role of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 419–435. CrossRef
Robitschek, C., & Keyes, C. L. (2009). Keyes's model of mental health with personal growth initiative as a parsimonious predictor. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56, 321–329. CrossRef
Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (1987). Human aging: Usual and successful. Science, 237, 143–149. CrossRef
Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (1998). Successful aging. New York, NY, USA: Random House.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78. CrossRef
Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6), 1069–1081. CrossRef
Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719–727. CrossRef
Sun, J., Kaufman, S. B., & Smillie, L. D. (2018). Unique associations between big five personality aspects and multiple dimensions of well-being. Journal of Personality, 86(2), 158–172. CrossRef
SURS (2016). Population aged 15 years or more by education, age and sex, Slovenia, annually. Retrieved from http://pxweb.stat.si/pxweb/Dialog/varval.asp?ma=05G2002E&ti=&path=../Database/Demographics/05_population/20_Socio-economicPopulation/01_05G20_education/&lang=1
Tadic, M., Oerlemans, W. G., Bakker, A. B., & Veenhoven, R. (2013). Daily activities and happiness in later life: The role of work status. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(5), 1507–1527. CrossRef
Wankel, L. M., & Berger, B. G. (1990). The psychological and social benefits of sport and physical activity. Journal of Leisure Research, 22, 167–182. CrossRef
White, M. P., & Dolan, P. (2009). Accounting for the richness of daily activities. Psychological Science, 20(8), 1000–1008. CrossRef
Zupančič, M., Kavčič, T., & Colnerič, B. (2011). Kakšne so predstave odraslih v Sloveniji o starosti in starejših osebah? [Representations of aging and elderly in Slovene adults]. Good Quality of Old Age, 14(3), 24–39.