“Successful Agers”: Better Aging through Social Participation

Getting involved in social activities can promote well-being, prevent loneliness, and keep you connected to your community. Social participation is especially important as you get older. While all social activity is beneficial, some activities are more strongly linked with positive aging. A recent study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health investigated links between social activity and aging in Canadian adults.  

The study included 7,623 Canadian older adults who were deemed to be “successful agers” and were at least 60 years at the follow-up period. Researchers defined successful agers as those who met specific criteria related to physical, psychological, emotional, social, and self-rated wellness, in order to capture both objective and subjective facets of successful aging. Of the original sample, ~40% were considered to be aging successfully. The social activities assessed were: church or religious activities, educational or cultural activities, service or fraternal organization activities, community or professional organization activities, volunteer work, and recreational activities.  

Results showed that participating in certain social activities were more beneficial for aging than others. After controlling for several covariates like age and gender, only volunteer work and recreational activities were associated with higher odds of later successful aging. Specifically, volunteering was associated with a 17% higher likelihood and recreational activity with a 15% higher likelihood of successful aging.  

This study was based on Canadian adults, and we might expect results to differ based on geographic region. More research is needed on how to encourage older adults to participate in volunteer and recreational activities to maximize positive aging. Becoming involved in your community, or even getting together with friends, is a step in the right direction.  


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Ho, M., Pullenayegum, E., & Fuller-Thomson, E. (2023). Is Social Participation Associated with Successful Aging among Older Canadians? Findings from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(12), 6058. 

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