MPIDR Working Paper
Daily activities and survival at older ages
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2002-041, 29 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (September 2002)
This study tested the hypothesis that time spent on regenerative (e.g., resting), productive (e.g., housework), and consumptive activities (e.g., meeting friends) is associated with survival in persons aged 70 and older. An observational study with semi-annual mortality follow-ups was carried out in the former West Berlin, Germany. The sample was stratified by age and sex and consisted of 473 persons aged 70 to 103 years. Study participants lived in the community as well as in institutions. Activity measures were assessed in 1990-1993 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 3 February 2000. Consumptive activities were related to survival (relative risk = 0.76, 95% confidence interval 0.58 to 1.00) after several confounding factors were controlled for. There were indications that the greatest survival benefit is achieved with a medium amount of time devoted to consumptive activities. Our results support the idea that daily activities are linked to survival via a psychosocial pathway, which 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.