What do people like the woman in the photograph gain from participating in leisure activities? Researchers agree that involvement in leisure activi­ties is related to well-being (Guinn, 1999; Kelly, 1996; McGuire et al., 1996; Warr et al., 2004) and may even be related to reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease (Crowe et al., 2003). The key aspect of this relation is not the level of participation. Instead, how much satisfaction you derive from your leisure activities is the important element in promoting well-being (Lawton, Moss, & Fulcomer, 1986-1987). Whether leisure enhances one’s well-being appears to depend on whether you like what you do for

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Leisure activities such as this one promote satisfaction and well-being as the stress of work decreases in prominence.

fun. For example, nonsocial aspects of activities (e. g., solitary activities) promote health and longev­ity in late older age (Lennartsson & Silverstein, 2001; Menec, 2003).

But what if leisure activities are pursued very seriously? In some cases, people create leisure – family conflict by engaging in leisure activities to extremes (Goff, Fick, & Opplinger, 1997). Only when there is support from others for such extreme involvement are problems avoided (Goff et al.,

1997) . As in most things, moderation in leisure activities is probably best.

Concept Checks

1. How can leisure activities be classified?

2. What age differences have been noted in leisure activities?

3. What benefits do people derive from leisure activities?

12.4 Retirement


• What does being retired mean?

• Why do people retire?

• How should people prepare for retirement?

• How satisfied are retired people?

• What specific effects does retirement have on maintaining family and community ties?


att is a 77-year-old retired construction worker who labored hard all his life. He managed to save a little money, but he and his wife live primar­ily on his monthly Social Security checks. Although not rich, they have enough to pay the bills. Matt is largely happy with retirement, and he stays in touch with his friends. He thinks maybe he’s a little strange, though—he has heard that retirees are supposed to be isolated and lonely.

You probably take it for granted that someday, after working for many productive years, you will retire. But did you know that until 1934, when a railroad union sponsored a bill promoting manda­tory retirement, and 1935, when Social Security was inaugurated, retirement was rarely even con­sidered by most Americans like Matt (Sterns & Gray, 1999). Only since World War II have there been a substantial number of retired people in the United States. Today the number is increasing rap­idly, and the notion that people work a specified time and then retire is built into our expectations about work.

In this section, we consider what retirement is like for older adults. We consider people like Matt as we examine how retirement is defined, why people retire, how people adjust to being retired, and how retirement affects interpersonal relationships.