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Marcela Kepicova, ABD, MA, EdS, LPC, NCC. Changes in Leisure Activity Involvement in Widowed Older Adults:. Revitalizing Lives through Volunteering . Ph.D. in Counselor Education Program. Montclair State University.

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Presenter:Marcela Kepicova, ABD, MA, EdS, LPC, NCC

Changes in Leisure Activity Involvement in Widowed Older Adults:Revitalizing Lives through Volunteering

Ph.D. in Counselor Education Program

Montclair State UniversitySlide2

Objectives for Today’s Discussion

Define older adult (OA) retirees and the challenges and strengths associated with this populationIdentify widowed vs non-widowed OADescribe transition – spousal loss and grieving process

Compare widowed and non-widowed in terms of their health and functioningHighlight gender differences Discuss the importance of proactive intervention and effective strategies to improve life after spousal lossSlide3

Older Adults (OA) in the US in 2010

Age 65 and older13 % of the total population (40.3 million)20 % of the total population (88.5 million) -projected OA population in 20509 % of OA lived in poverty

9.1 million were veterans of the armed forces16.1 % were in labor force in 2010 21.3 % earned a bachelor’s degree or higherOlder Adults (85-94) fastest growing population (3.9 million to 5.1)18 % of OA live in Florida ( West Virginia, Maine, Pennsylvania, Iowa)



Diversity in AO

80 % White 8.3 % Black/AA 7 % Hispanic 3.3 % Asian 0.5 % Native American57% married27 % widowed

90 males per 100 females 65 and older (in 1990: 82 males per 100 females)58 males per 100 females 85 and older (in 1900: 45 males per 100 females)Slide5

Marital StatusSlide6

Life-Span Developmental Gain and Loss

Adults aged 65 and above who identify as retiredPhysicalCognitiveSocialEmotionalExistentialStrengthsSlide7

Work and Meaning in LifeHaving more meaning has been positively associated with work enjoyment (Bonebright, Clay, & Ankenmann, 2000)

Meaning in life is also positively correlated with life satisfaction (Chamberlain & Zika, 1988)Establishing meaning through work or volunteer activities canbolster self-esteemincrease self-efficacy

establish a greater sense of independenceprovide opportunities for interpersonal connectionsSlide8

Importance of Life Themes

Human beings spend a majority of their lives working, making meaning of their work, and establishing satisfying life through work and social connections (Blustein, 2006)

OAs that engage in post-retirement work or volunteering report more positive levels of mental well-being than those who do not work or volunteer (Schwingel, A., Niti, M.M.,& Pin Ng, T., 2009)Slide9

Life Satisfaction: Contributing FactorsHealth (physical and/or psychological)

Marital statusSocial SupportWork/Leisure activitiesHigh Level of Life ChangesReligion/SpiritualityHope Slide10

Spousal Loss In Older AdulthoodThe death of a spouse

: one of the most common and stressful negative live event (10 million OA widowed)Grieving Process/Adaptation to LossWidowed OAs came closest to complete adaptation to their loss and returned to pre-loss levels of happiness by the eight year of widowhood(Lucas et al., 2003)

Bereavement has been associated with affecting widows’:Physical healthMental healthSocial functioning EconomicsSlide11

Widowed vs Non-widowed OAsWidowed OAs have:

Lower levels of psychological well-beingHigher levels of depressive symptomsLower levels of life satisfactionHigher level of grief and distress

More difficulties with physical abilities and socialization More deteriorating physical health Greater declines in social functioning(Arbuckle & de Vries, 1995; Chen at al., 1999; Hagedoorn et al., 2006; Wilcox et al., 2003)Slide12

What Can Improve Life of Widowed OAs?

Social supportIntimate attachmentEngaging in pleasant activitiesLeisure activities (physical, formal, informal)

Modality for experiencing positive emotions Positive context for adjustment after negative eventsAssociation between participation in activities and stress reduction Participation in leisure activities can have possible social and health benefits for OA(Janke

et al., 2008;


et al., 2002;


, 1975; Uchino et al., 1996)Slide13

Four Behavioral TypesPhone conversations,

walking, movies, museums, exhibitions, vacations, music, restaurants, taking courses and reading books, Expanders

ReducersConcentratorsDiffusers(Nimrod, G. Janke, M.C., Kleiber, D. A. (2009). Expanding, Reducing, Concentrating and Diffusing: Activity patterns of Recent Retirees in the United States. Leisure Sciences, 31, 37-52)Slide14


Expenders: OAs who participate in a large number of activities at a higher frequencyReducers: OAs who participate in the same or in a fewer activities at the same or lower frequencyConcentrators:

OAs who participate in the same or in a fewer activities, but at the higher frequencyDiffusers: OAs who participate in a large number of activities but at the same or at a lower frequencySlide15

Expenders35% of the respondents

significantly higher life satisfaction than reducersHigher SESGood healthHighly participating in activitiesSlide16

Reducers43 % of the respondents

Less educationLower SESMore health problemsMinimal participation in activitiesSlide17

Concentrators11% of the respondents

Significantly higher life satisfaction than reducersHigher level of educationGood health Financially stable Slide18

Diffusers11% of the respondents

Life satisfaction did not differ from the rest of the sampleRelatively high level of educationFair financial situationFair healthHighly participating in activities Slide19

Gender Differences in Widowed OAs

Continuity Theory – OAs tend to continue some types of activities in later life or after retirement The pattern of participation in leisure activities might change after a spousal loss (lost partner with whom one can participate)

Gender factorMen and Women are often involved in different types of leisure activities across the lifespanSlide20

Gender Differences In Widowed OAs-cont

participate more in social and formal leisure activities report more barriers to leisure participationreport

more social anxiety, have higher levels of depressive symptomshave lower levels of self-efficacy,are more likely to share their emotions


more confident about their social contacts and support

participate more in physical activities,


high levels of psychological disturbance and


eport more depressive

symptoms which leads to failure to



o not share their emotions


re not very confident about their social contacts and support



Changes in Leisure activities in Widowed OAs

40% of OAs after spousal loss continued to participate in visiting or talking with friends and family members33% of OAs continued to participate in sports or exerciseMajority of OAs continued (40%) or increased (20%) participation in religious activities, and outdoors activities

Those who ceased participation in leisure activities reported higher levels of depressive symptomsWidowers report more functional impairment, less involvement in visiting and talking activities, less involvement in sports and religious activities then widowsSlide22


Proactive Approach/Primary PreventionReaching out and educating health care professional ( e.g., physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, senior centers, etc.)Strategies when working with widowed OAsPsychoeducation

Life Circle ActivityThen and Now ActivityWork Graph Activity Career DiamondWraparound Approach Widowed OAHealth care professionalFamily members

Community members

Religious representatives Slide23

Then and Now Activity

Computer/internet 5XweekHiking 2XweekTV 7XweekTime with children 1Xweek

Computer/internet 7XweekHiking 4XweekTV 7XweekTime with children 3XweekDining out 1XweekDancing 1Xweek



Life Portions: PresentSlide25

Life Portions: FutureSlide26

Career Diamond

Illustrates basic movement of career develop processSlide27