Journal Article

Daily activities and survival at older ages

Klumb, P. L., Maier, H.

Journal of Aging and Health, 19:4, 594-611 (2007)

Keywords: Germany, mortality, old age


Objective: This study tested the hypothesis that time spent on activities that are considered regenerative (e.g., resting), productive (e.g., housework), and consumptive (e.g., meeting friends) is associated with survival in persons aged 70 and older. Methods: An observational study with mortality follow-ups was carried out in the former West Berlin, Germany. The sample was stratified by age and sex, and it consisted of 473 persons aged 70 to 103 years. Study participants lived in the community as well as in institutions. Activity measures were assessed from 1990 to 1993 by structured interviews in the participants┬┤ homes. Cox regression was used to model survival from time of interview. The main outcome measure was survival on August 1, 2003. Results: Consumptive activities were related to survival (relative risk = 0.89, 95% confidence interval 0.83 to 0.97), after several confounding factors were controlled for. The effect diminished over time. Discussion: Results support the idea that daily activities are linked to survival via a psychosocial pathway that might involve perceived quality of life. Consumptive activities (e.g., meeting friends, reading a novel) may contribute considerably to maintaining health and achieving longevity because they are performed on a daily basis and their effects may accumulate over the life course.