Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 3 » Productive Aging - Definition, Some Controversy, Variables That Influence Productive Aging, Policy Considerations

Productive Aging - Some Controversy

activities personal people growth

Using an econometric word such as productive in association with aging has also raised some controversy in the gerontology scholarly community. Critics have asked whether this means that a person who is not contributing in an economically measurable manner is "unproductive?" (Holstein, 1992). In the activities cited as part of productive aging, for example, personal enrichment is not included. Meditation, religious reflection, personal growth, reminiscence, physical exercise and sports, entertainment, and education for expressive purposes are all outside the definition of productive aging, though these are important activities undertaken by many older individuals.

The response by proponents of productive aging has been that there are many activities undertaken by older people that are of great value to older people, as well as to society. Aging productively does not negate these valuable and important activities. Personal enrichment and growth is part of an individual's struggle to find meaning in life. Further, productive aging, while valuable, does not, nor does it intend to, represent the ultimate aspiration of the aging experience. Productive aging is not intended to be an idealized form of aging.

Of concern to many advocates for older adults, however, is that for those elders who choose to engage in productive aging, there is an uneven playing field where older people encounter specific prejudices, cultural traditions, and genuine barriers. They argue that this is unfair, counterintuitive, and discriminatory, and that it needs to be remedied. A society in which older individuals may contribute without facing ageism is indeed a goal worth struggling for.

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