Session: Productive Engagement in Later Life: Examining the Health Outcomes of Vulnerable Older Adult Populations Working and Volunteering (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

250 Productive Engagement in Later Life: Examining the Health Outcomes of Vulnerable Older Adult Populations Working and Volunteering

Saturday, January 18, 2020: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Marquis BR Salon 8, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Aging Services and Gerontology (A&G)
Symposium Organizer:
Kelsi Carolan, MSW, Boston University
Ernest Gonzales, PhD, Boston University
The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare has put forth productive engagement in later life as a Grand Challenge for the social work profession (Morrow-Howell, Gonzales, Matz-Costa, & Greenfield, 2015). Productive aging involves older adults engaging in meaningful activities for individuals, families, communities and society with foci on employment, volunteering or caregiving (Morrow-Howell, Hinterlong & Sherraden, 2001). Given the rapid rate of population aging in the United States and worldwide, maximizing the existing capabilities of older adults is vital to facilitating improved health outcomes and financial security into older adulthood (Gonzales, Matz-Costa, Morrow-Howell, 2015; Morrow-Howell, Gonzales, Matz-Costa, & Greenfield, 2015). Morrow-Howell et al. (2015) assert that a substantial shift in societal and institutional norms and opportunities will be necessary in order to increase access to and support for the productive engagement of older adults into later life. Research, policy and practice innovations are especially vital to establishing access for vulnerable older adults who are often excluded in the discussion of productive activities (e.g., older adults with disabilities, older adults with adverse childhood experiences, and older adults working in blue-collar occupations). As such, research that informs pathways to or health outcomes of the productive engagement of vulnerable older adult populations is essential. This symposium presents three distinct studies examining the effects of employment and/or volunteering on the health and well-being of older adults from marginalized and/or underrepresented populations. The first paper examines the differing effects of volunteering on life satisfaction, loneliness, and purpose in life among older adults with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)), after controlling for demographic characteristics. The second paper utilizes a qualitative study design to examine the relationship between employment and perceived health after the onset of a chronic, progressive disease in early older adulthood. The third paper explores the longitudinal association of cognitively stimulating work on cognition by race in relation to occupation type; self-perceived ability to work; self-rated ability to meet physical, mental, and interpersonal demands of work; and episodic memory.
* noted as presenting author
Psychosocial Impact of Volunteering on Older Adults with Adverse Childhood Experiences
Kathy Lee, PhD, University of Texas at Arlington; Joseph Harwerth, BA, University of Texas at Arlington
Integrating Health Equity and Productive Aging Perspectives to Improve Cognitive Health
Yeonjung Lee, PhD, MA (MSW equiv.), Boston University; Ernest Gonzales, PhD, New York University
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