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Social and productive activities and health among partnered older adults: A couple-level analysis

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Abstract

Objectives. We theorize and test the health of older adults as a result of their activity engagement, as well as a product of their spouse’s engagement. Method. We draw on 15 waves of couple-level data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Using responses of time engaged in nine different activities, we estimate Latent Class Models to describe activity profiles of partnered older adults. Given potential health selections into activity engagement, we lag older adults’ activity engagement by one wave to examine its association with subsequent health. We then investigate associations between the lag of the spouse’s activities with respondents’ health, controlling for their own activity engagement at the previous wave. Result. We find four activity profiles for men, and three for women. Respondents who were predominantly engaged in community activities generally report better subsequent health. Beyond their own activity engagement, for both older men and women, having a partner who was also community engaged associate with better subsequent health, though for older women, there were little differences between having a husband who was community engaged or inactive. Discussion. Our findings highlight the value of considering activities of partnered older adults at the couple level.

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... Most commonly, studies use an index (count) of the number of social participation activities someone engages in (Liu et al., 2016). A few studies derive or construct a social participation profile: Amagasa et al. (2017) used exploratory factor analysis to characterize social participation in their study of older adults in Japan; Lam and Bolano (2018) and Morrow-Howell et al. (2014) use an LCA approach to analyze overall activity profiles (including social activities) and their relationship to self-rated health for older adults; and Katagiri and Kim (2018) construct an activity profile based on the number and types of social activities in which older adults in Japan and Korea participate. ...
... Even with rich cross-sectional data, associations between social participation and health or well-being may be confounded by unobserved background characteristics. Some studies deal with endogeneity (at least in part) by using instrumental variables (Fiorillo & Sabatini, 2015;Ichida et al., 2013;Liu et al., 2016), panel data fixed effects (Chen et al., 2016;Croezen et al., 2015;Liu et al., 2016), panel data growth curve models (Ang, 2018), panel data with lagged effects (Lam & Bolano, 2018) or structural equation modeling (Sirven & Debrand, 2012). A systematic review by Wanchai and Phrompayak (2018) analyzes quasiexperimental, experimental, and RCT interventions of social participation interventions for adults aged 60 and older. ...
... The relationship between social participation and health and wellbeing outcomes is of ongoing interest to researchers in various disciplines. Only a few studies published to date consider the interdependence of activities (Amagasa et al., 2017;Lam & Bolano, 2018;Morrow-Howell et al., 2014), and generate unique social participation profiles in the older adult population. Moreover, most studies consider the individual in isolation, and there is limited knowledge about how the partner's social participation is related to one's own health and wellbeing. ...
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Older adults are at an elevated risk of adverse health effects associated with social isolation and loneliness. Social participation is considered a modifiable determinant of health and well-being and has been proposed as a means to reduce this risk. However, there is limited knowledge to date about patterns of social activities among older adults. Using two waves of the Swiss Household Panel, a latent class analysis is performed to obtain discrete social participation profiles of adults aged 60 and older. Descriptive statistics and regression methods are used to study group compositions and estimate associations with self-assessed health, negative and positive affect, and life satisfaction. Once individual time-constant characteristics are controlled for, the majority of the positive associations between social participation and health or well-being found in the pooled data becomes small and insignificant, which is indicative of self-selection into different activity profiles. The role of self-selection into social participation implies that the design of interventions targeting social participation in the older adult population should be tailored to their heterogeneous needs and preferences.
... Komonpaisarn and Loichinger (2018) found that regular caregiving of grandchildren negatively affects selfrated health, physical disabilities and wellbeing of the older adults. Lam and Bolano (2018) found that having a spouse who engages in community activities is associated with better mental health for older adults, suggesting that spousal engagement in community activities not only provides better mental health for older adults but also promotes their partners' mental wellbeing. ...
... First, the papers document various productive activities among older adults in Asian societies with different economic development levels. These include traditional productive activities, such as employment, volunteering and grandparental childcare (e.g., Chiao, 2018;Lam and Bolano, 2018), but also agricultural activities, culturally meaningful activities (e.g., village meeting, elderly community meeting in rural Indonesia), self-enhancement and intergenerational support (e.g., Miao et al., 2018;Thang et al., 2018;Utomo et al., 2018;Wang et al., 2018). Table 1 Prevalence of productive activities in later life in Asia. ...
... Table 1 Prevalence of productive activities in later life in Asia. Sources: Huang (2018); Lam and Bolano (2018); Kim (2018); Ko and Yeung (2018); Luo et al. (2018); Tong et al. (2018); Teerawichitchainan et al. (2018); Utomo et al. (2018); Visaria and Dommaraju (2018 (Lam and Bolano, 2018); 65 + denotes the sample of older adults aged 65 or over. b Rural Indonesia (Utomo et al., 2018). ...
... Previous studies also stated that the effects of social relationships can be understood through understanding the components of supportive relations that indicate the degree of social integration, the actual support obtained from the network, and the satisfaction with the relationship (26). Prior literature had demonstrated the consequences of poor social network on individuals' quality of life (8,27), mental health outcomes (9,28,29), cognitive decline (30,31), mortality (20), and psychological well-being (32). Social network yielded various health outcomes including protection against depression and loneliness (16,17,20,28), promotion of higher life satisfaction (8,9,33), safeguarding against Alzheimer's disease and dementia (34), improvement in cognitive function (30), and maintenance of general health (26,29). ...
... Prior literature had demonstrated the consequences of poor social network on individuals' quality of life (8,27), mental health outcomes (9,28,29), cognitive decline (30,31), mortality (20), and psychological well-being (32). Social network yielded various health outcomes including protection against depression and loneliness (16,17,20,28), promotion of higher life satisfaction (8,9,33), safeguarding against Alzheimer's disease and dementia (34), improvement in cognitive function (30), and maintenance of general health (26,29). Previous studies had also revealed various types of social network structures that were based on diverse or restricted social ties (8,10). ...
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Living arrangement has been reported to have a significant influence on several mental health statuses of older adults, but their social network may confound this association. This study is aimed at examining the interactive effect of living arrangements and social network on the mental health status among older adults in Malaysia. A total of 2,188 Malaysian older adults living nationwide were included in this cross-sectional study. Participants were classified into four groups according to their living arrangements (living alone or not living alone) and social network size (assessed using Lubben's Social Network Scale-6). Poor social network was defined as the lowest quartile (fourth quartile) of the score. Mental health statuses, which include flourishing in life, life satisfaction, cognitive functions, loneliness, depression, and perceived stress, were measured. Multiple linear regression models, adjusted for age, gender, education, and comorbidities, revealed that a good social network was significantly associated with an increase on the flourishing scale scores, regardless of living arrangements. Not living alone and having good social network was significantly associated with increased Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores and decreased loneliness scores. This study found that living arrangements are not always a risk factor for the mental health status of older adults. However, it may be confounded by the level of their social networks. The results suggested that the effects of social network may exceed the impact of living arrangements. It is recommended that health professionals pay more attention to the social networks of older Malaysians to harness its benefits in improving their mental health status.
... The older population is commonly viewed as individuals who are frail, outdated, less independent, and a burden to the society that typically assumes that productivity declines as age increases. Generally, such an issue impacts the economy, society, and health (Lam, J., & Bolano, D., 2018). ...
... According to the WHO's International Classification of Functioning and Disability (ICF) model, participation is the consequence of interactions between an individual's health status, personal, and environmental contextual factors [51]. Social participation of older adults has been found to be positively associated with self-rated physical and mental health [52,53]. Occupations of social participation were identified in eight of the reviewed articles, demonstrating the importance of social participation as part of the maternal role of older women. ...
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Motherhood is a meaningful life role among adult women. Occupations within the maternal role of younger mothers have been well documented, but less is known regarding the maternal-role at older age. This review aimed to describe the occupations, activities, and perceptions that older women ascribe to their maternal role. In the future, this information may promote health and wellbeing of older women. A systematic search of peer reviewed articles, that included healthy, community-dwelling mothers, 60 years of age or older, was conducted. Maternal-role occupations and perceptions of older mothers were identified and classified according to the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (OTPF). Fourteen articles, representing 3102 older mothers, were included. The identified occupations and activities within the maternal role were from two categories: Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) (such as assistance with daily chores) and social participation (such as sharing holiday rituals). Three themes reflecting maternal-role perceptions were identified: providing support; relationship with children; and motherhood as a never-ending role. Maternal occupations were identified in only a few articles and from only two categories, IADL and social participation. These findings together with the perception that motherhood is a ‘never-ending’ role suggests that further research is needed to better characterize the maternal role of older women from an occupational perspective.
... In China, most people are considered elderly at 55 years old, influenced by women's retirement policy, so this study conducted a questionnaire survey for those 55 and over. In addition, other research has found that age, gender, health status, financial status, marital status, labor ability, and educational level will influence the environmental adaptability [34,35]. Therefore, this study proposes eight dimensions: age, gender, physical condition, pension, housing condition, marital status, work capacity, and educational level, to evaluate the demographic characteristics of the interviewees. ...
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... The older population is commonly viewed as individuals who are frail, outdated, less independent, and a burden to the society that typically assumes that productivity declines as age increases. Generally, such an issue impacts the economy, society, and health (Lam, J., & Bolano, D., 2018). ...
... Recent studies characterizing social activity profiles of older adults in the community have been conducted in Japan (Amagasa et al., 2017), Korea (Katagiri & Kim, 2018), Switzerland (Dawson-Townsend, 2019), and among partneredolder adults in Australia (Lam & Bolano, 2019). These studies have shown some individuals engage more in formal activities (e.g., club memberships, volunteering) and others in informal ones (e.g., family networks). ...
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Aged care services have the potential to support social participation for the growing number of adults aging at home, but little is known about the types of social activities older adults in community care are engaged in. We used cluster analysis to examine the current profiles of social participation across seven domains in 1,114 older Australians, and chi-square analyses to explore between-group differences in social participation and sociodemographic and community care service use. Two distinct participation profiles were identified: (a) connected, capable, older rural women and (b) isolated, high-needs, urban-dwelling men. The first group had higher levels of engagement across six social participation domains compared with the second group. Social participation among older adults receiving community care services varies by gender, age, individual care needs, and geographical location. More targeted service provision at both the individual and community levels may assist older adults to access social participation opportunities.
... Some research has shown that older couples' spousal coordination of paid work, housework and social activities affects his/her own activity engagement (cf. Lam & Bolano, 2019). ...
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Overview Empirical example: Positive health behaviors Preparing to conduct LCA with covariates LCA with covariates: Model and notation Hypothesis testing in LCA with covariates Interpretation of the intercepts and regression coefficients Empirical examples of LCA with a single covariate Empirical example of multiple covariates and interaction terms Multiple-group LCA with covariates: Model and notation Grouping variable or covariate? Use of a Bayesian prior to stabilize estimation Binomial logistic regression Suggested supplemental readings Points to remember What's next
Article
People are interconnected, and so their health is interconnected. In recognition of this social fact, there has been growing conceptual and empirical attention over the past decade to the impact of social networks on health. This article reviews prominent findings from this literature. After drawing a distinction between social network studies and social support studies, we explore current research on dyadic and supradyadic network influences on health, highlighting findings from both egocen-tric and sociocentric analyses. We then discuss the policy implications of this body of work, as well as future research directions. We conclude that the existence of social networks means that people's health is inter-dependent and that health and health care can transcend the individual in ways that patients, doctors, policy makers, and researchers should care about.
Article
This study contrasts 2-year adjustments in disabled husbands' and wives' amount of received care following both worsening and recovery in personal (activities of daily living [ADLs]) and routine care (instrumental activities of daily living [IADLs]) disability. Using longitudinal data on 789 husbands and 778 wives from the Health and Retirement Study (2000 and 2002), changes in marital partners' monthly hours of spousal and nonspousal care were jointly modeled using bivariate Tobit models. In addition, asymmetry in the magnitude of responses to worsening and improvement of function was examined. Disabled husbands receive more hours of spousal and nonspousal care following worsening in ADL function than wives. Conversely, disabled wives lose more spousal and nonspousal care hours following improvements in ADL disability than husbands. Moreover, wives recovering in ADL function lose more hours of spousal care than they receive following worsening in personal care disability. There is no evidence of corresponding gender differences in the dynamics of assistance received following changes in IADL function. Compared with husbands, disabled wives are disadvantaged in the adjustment of their personal care hours. Although disabled married community residents receive more hours of care than their unmarried counterparts, there are important gender differences in the advantages offered by marriage.
Article
The shifting boundary between work and retirement and the always-emergent features of retirement practice create a wide opportunity for scholarship and research. After an overview of the scope of retirement research, this article articulates 4 areas that deserve special attention in the present historical circumstance: studies of the form and timing of retirement exits, the labor market for older workers, the quality of pensions, and the experience of retired life. The field should be wary of prescribing regimes of behavior for late careers and retirement that many people are unsuited to fulfill.
Article
The problem of selecting one of a number of models of different dimensions is treated by finding its Bayes solution, and evaluating the leading terms of its asymptotic expansion. These terms are a valid large-sample criterion beyond the Bayesian context, since they do not depend on the a priori distribution.
Article
The aim of this research was to segment older people in subgroups with similar social engagement activity patterns in order to better target public health interventions. Cross-sectional data, collected in 2005 by Dutch community health services (response 79%), from 22026 independently living elderly aged 65 or older were used. Cluster analysis was performed to derive subgroups with common social engagement activity patterns, which were compared for their self-perceived health, mental health, physical health, and loneliness. Among the independently living older people, five subgroups were identified with different patterns of social engagement activities: less social engaged elderly, less social engaged caregivers, social engaged caregivers, leisure engaged elderly, and productive engaged elderly. The subgroups differed significantly in social engagement activities, socio-demographics, and health (p < 0.001). The groups with the highest relative numbers of older people who were frequently engaged in leisure and productive-related activities, also included relatively more elderly with a good self-perceived health (85.8% versus 58.8%), mental health (91.3% versus 74.6%), physical health (97.7% versus 73.0%), and elderly who were not lonely (70.0% versus 52.0%) when compared to the least healthy subgroup. Older people could be segmented in subgroups based on similar social engagement patterns. Groups with elderly who were less socially engaged demonstrate to be possible target groups for public health interventions, given the relatively high shares of unhealthy older people among them.
Article
The authors tested the hypothesis that total daily physical activity is related to the level of cognition in older persons. Cross-sectional study. Retirement communities across the Chicago metropolitan area. Five hundred twenty-one older persons without dementia. Participants underwent structured evaluation of cognition and objective measures of total daily physical activity were collected using actigraphy. In a linear regression model adjusted for age, sex, and education, total daily activity was associated with a global measure of cognition. By contrast, self-report physical activity was not associated with cognition. Further analyses showed that total daily activity was related to all five cognitive subscales. Objective measures of total daily physical activity were associated with a broad range of cognitive abilities in older persons. These findings support the link between physical activity and cognition in the elderly.
Article
Both cross-sectional comparisons and patterns of change in productive activities among members of the MacArthur Successful Aging cohort were examined. The data came from a three-site longitudinal study of community-dwelling adults aged 70-79. The highest functioning cohort (n = 1,192) was found to be significantly more productive than a comparison group of medium- and low-functioning respondents at baseline in four of five domains examined. In longitudinal models, we tested several hypotheses regarding the determinants of change in levels of productive activity over a three-year period. Overall, 15.1 percent (n = 162) of the cohort became less productive, while another 12.7 percent (n = 136) became more productive. Risk factors for decline in productivity included hospital admission and stroke. Age, functional disability, marriage, and increased mastery were protective against declines. Conversely, Blacks, those who were more satisfied with life at baseline, and those reporting increased mastery were more likely to increase their productivity.
Article
This research examined whether engagement with life, defined as involvement in social, leisure, and productive activities, produced a survival advantage among oldest old persons in Sweden. Survival was investigated with respect to activities that involved (a) social integration, (b) physical mobility, and (c) neither social nor physical aspects. The authors also investigated the degree to which any observed survival benefits were related to prior health differences that select older adults into active roles. Baseline data derived from the Swedish Panel Study of Living Conditions of the Oldest Old, a nationally representative sample of persons aged 77 years and older living in Sweden in 1992. The authors used factor analysis to apply a simplifying measurement structure to frequency of participation in 10 leisure activities. They used Cox proportional hazard regression to estimate the relative effects of activity factors and other independent variables on the logged hazard rate of mortality up to 1996. Analyses revealed 4 domains of activities that lie along 2 basic dimensions: solitary-social and sedentary-active. Among men, only participation in activities that were both solitary and active was significantly associated with reduced mortality risk when health variables were controlled. Among women, none of the activity domains was significant when health variables were controlled. For the entire sample, greater participation in solitary-active activities significantly reduced risk of mortality when all other activity domains and health factors were controlled. Although most of the observed associations between activity involvement and survival are a byproduct of the confound between poor initial health and low activity levels, solitary activities have a positive influence on the survival of very old individuals, especially men, suggesting that nonsocial aspects of activities may promote health and longevity in late old age.
Article
This study investigated the latent structure of productive activity among middle-aged and older adults. Whereas most researchers have examined forms of productive activity as discrete behaviors, our approach captured the reality that many persons engage in more than one activity and commit varying degrees of time to these activities. We took the data for this study from the Americans' Changing Lives survey. The activities examined include formal volunteer work, informal help to others, unpaid domestic work, caregiving, and paid work. We describe the complex clusters of activities and time commitment to those activities using latent class cluster analysis. Our results demonstrated that a four-cluster model fit the data well. Specifically, the findings showed that middle-aged and older adults fell into four clusters: helpers, home maintainers, worker/volunteers, and super helpers. We also show how individual characteristics (e.g., age, gender, race) are associated with the likelihood of being in one of these four groups. This measurement strategy provides a foundation for future research into how experts can employ productive activity clusters to understand better well-being across the life course. This is important because our results show that many activities do not occur independently but rather are linked in patterned ways.
Article
The purpose of this study was to test whether paid work and formal volunteering reduce the rate of mental health decline in later life. Using four waves of Health and Retirement Study data collected from a sample of 7,830 individuals aged 55 to 66, I estimated growth curve models to assess the effects of productive activities on mental health trajectories. The analytical strategy took into account selection processes when examining the beneficial effects of activities. The analyses also formally attended to the sample attrition problem inherent in longitudinal studies. The results indicated that activity participants generally had better mental health at the beginning of the study. Full-time employment and low-level volunteering had independent protective effects against decline in psychological well-being. Joint participants of both productive activities enjoyed a slower rate of mental health decline than single-activity participants. The results are consistent with activity theory and further confirm the role accumulation perspective. The finding that full-time work combined with low-level volunteering is protective of mental health reveals the complementary effect of volunteering to formal employment. Methodological and theoretical implications are discussed.
Productive activity clusters among middleaged and older adults: Intersecting forms and time commitments. The Journal of study of social and productive activities as predictors of survival among elderly Americans
  • J A Burr
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Burr, J. A., Mutchler, J. E., & Caro, F. (2007). Productive activity clusters among middleaged and older adults: Intersecting forms and time commitments. The Journal of study of social and productive activities as predictors of survival among elderly Americans. BMJ, 319, 478-483.
Marriage and close relationships of the marital kind
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Huyck, M. H. (1995). Marriage and close relationships of the marital kind. In R. Blieszner and V. H. Bedford (Eds.), Handbook of aging and the family (pp. 181-200). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Couples' shared time during encore adulthood: Work, family, and marital characteristics
  • S Flood
  • K Genadek
Flood, S., & Genadek, K. (2016). Couples' shared time during encore adulthood: Work, family, and marital characteristics. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal, Canada, August 12-15, 2017.