Importance of generativity for healthy aging in older women

M. C. Carlson, T. Seeman, L. P. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This article reviewed increasing evidence that remaining physically, cognitively, or socially active confers health benefits by delaying or preventing the onset of disease and disability in older adults. The desire to be generative, or to make a difference, has long been considered an important developmental objective in later years in order to give meaning to one's life, and may provide the necessary impetus for older women to initiate and maintain health-promoting activities. Because the prevalence of disability is greatest in older women, it is critical to find ways to maximize their opportunities for generative activity to promote healthier life-styles. Unfortunately, those who stand to gain most from the promotion of generative roles face many limiting factors, including low education, financial dependence and poverty, primary care-taking responsibilities, social isolation, and low self-efficacy. These obstacles may be too difficult and pervasive for an individual to overcome by oneself. Rather, these challenges need to be addressed through progressive changes in social programs that acknowledge the contributions that older adults can make in later years. Decreasing the structural lag between current social and demographic realities of older women's roles with increasing age will become ever more critical as a growing proportion of older women and men transition from a job outside the home to retirement. (C) 2000, Editrice Kurtis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-140
Number of pages9
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2000


  • Generativity
  • Healthy aging
  • Older women
  • Prevention
  • Social programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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