Psychological Reporb, 1990, 66, 882.
@ Psychological Reports 1990
WORK AND THE MENTAL WELL-BEING OF THE ELDERLY ' DAVID F. DUNCAN AND RITA J. WHITNEY
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Many older Americans welcome the chance to retire while others are forced to accept mandatory retirement. In either case it is a major life-change event and, given the central role that work plays in most of our lives and self-concepts, it is not surprising that many experience retirement as a threatening loss (1, 2). The literature suggests that retirement may be associated with increased depression and illness (3) while continued employment has been reported to be associated with longer life and improved physical, mental, and social well-being (5). Data were collected at the annual Illinois State Fair. AU persons aged 55 years and older visiting the Fair's Senior Citizen Center on the three days of heaviest fair attendance were asked to complete a brief questionnaire measuring their mental well-being and work involvets to the domain of association. ment. This cross-sectional approach l ~ r n ~conclusions Subscale scores on the General WeU.being Schedule, a validated measure of mental health, were tested by one-way analysis ol varlance for differences between levels of occupational status (retired, retired but work part of year, retired but volunteer, homemaker, and employed) and between levels of type of employment (Full time, part-time, and temporary). Where differences were found across groups, post hoc analyses with the Duncan multiple-range test ( p = .05) were used to identify the differences. Analysis of variance indicated significant differences on only one subscale-that which measures interest in and satisfaction with daily life. Significant Uferences were found both across levels of occupational status ( p = .05) and type of employment ( p = .02). The former explained 8.9% of the variance in life satisfaction and the latter 26.8%. Post hoc analysis showed those subjects who were still employed (8.8% of the sample) or active in volunteer work (30 4%) being more satisfied with t h e ~ rdally lives than those who are homemakers (10.4%), retired but occasionally employed (14 4 9 b ) , or fully retired (36 0%) Those who worked full time (33.3% of those who work) found rheu daily lives more satlsfymg than those who worked part-time (36.6%) or temporarily (30.0%). This may afford some protection against depression and other emotional problems and so might contribute to better general health and greater longevity (4). Lack of association between retirement and depression could be an artifact of the sampling for persons suffering from depression might be under-represented among those attending a state fair. REFERENCES 1. ATCHLEY,R. (1975) Adjustment to loss of job at retirement. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 6, 17-27. 2. McBruo~,A. (1976) Retirement as a life crisis: myth or reality? Canadian Psychiatric As~ociationJournal, 21, 547-556. 3. MINKIER, M. (1981) Research on the health effects of retirement. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 22, 117-130. 4. PALAMORE, E., & LUXART,C. (1972) Health and social factors related to life satisfaction. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 13, 68-80. 5. PALAMORE,E., & STONE,V. (1973) Predictors of longevity. The Gerontologist, 13, 88-90.
Accepted May 31, 1390. 'Address correspondence to Dr. Duncan at the U n o i s Primary Health Care Association, 517 North Michaels, Carbondale, IL 62901.