Productivity and Aging

University of Nevada, Reno
Southern Area Cooperative Extension
Seniors CAN

Lesson Plan

Lesson: Productivity and Aging

Lesson Number: P-1


The “Productivity and Aging” lesson is designed to introduce Learners to the ideas that (1) the desire to be productive as one ages is common and healthy, and (2) there are many opportunities available for an older person who wishes to become more productive.

Learning Overview: The Learner will participate in a lesson designed to teach him/her that there are many interesting opportunities to explore to make life more fulfilling.

Lesson Objectives:

  1. During the lesson, the Learner will be exposed to information regarding the following:
    • How productivity can enhance the lives of older people and the lives of others.
    • Various types of productive activities.
    • How to find organizations you might be interested in.
  2. During the lesson, the Learner will engage in group discussion regarding productivity and aging, describing with clarity at0 least one example from his/her life experience.
  3. During group discussion, either spontaneously or in response to Facilitator request, the Learner will state with clarity that s/he has selected at least one idea presented during the lesson, what that idea is, and that s/he will try this idea during the following week to see if it works for him/her. Alternatively, the Learner will state with clarity that s/he does not want to try out any of the ideas presented, and the reason for the decision.


Set up at previous meeting:

Next week, we will be exploring productivity and aging.


Set up immediately prior to this meeting:

Facilitator assures that lighting is appropriate for Learners to read a local newspaper, community program brochures and senior or community center newsletters.



Provided by Facilitator:

One of the following for each Learner:

Note: Facilitator should review lesson plan for this week, last week and next week because information provided at the beginning of each lesson plan is needed for smooth transition between lessons.





Administration on Aging. (2008). Volunteer Opportunities [Online]. [Access date: 8/20/08].

Collins, C. C. (1997). Needs Assessment of the Clark County Free-Living Elderly Population. Las Vegas: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. P. 9.

Gillespe, C (2001). Study: Attitude Counts. The Associated Press.

Rowe, J. & Kahn, R. (1999). Successful Aging. Dell Publishing.

Smith, F. (2001). Volunteering Can Help Extend Your Life. Kaleidoscope Newsletter. HCA Healthcare, Senior Friends: Las Vegas, NV.

Snowdon, D. (2001). Aging With Grace. A Bantham Book: New York.

Weil, A. (2005). Longevity Lessons from the Okinawans. Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter, November Issue, pg 8. Body & Soul Omnimedia Inc: Boston, MA.

Corporation for National Service. (2008). National Service in Nevada (Online). NV (Access date 8/10/08)

U.S. Census Bureau. (2004) General Demographic Characteristics: 2004 [Online]. [Access date: 8/20/08].

Corporation for National and Community Service. (2004) Volunteering in the United States, 2004 [Online]. [Access date: 8/20/08].


Begin Lesson:

Transition from last week

Last week we talked about (name of last week’s unit). Each of us selected one idea to try out. Let’s talk about how those worked (or didn’t work) for us, and also what we learned from last week’s meeting.

Anticipatory Set:

Today we will explore productivity and aging. There are three reasons that we think this topic is important:

  1. Most older people report that they want to continue being productive as they age.
  2. Being productive includes performing paid work, but it also encompasses much more—including caretaking for family members or friends, education, crafts, informally helping family or doing volunteer work.
  3. Research has shown that older adults who remain active during their gold years have less depression, loneliness and more control over their lives.
  4. Sometimes people need help to discover ways to become more productive that fit in with their current needs and skills.

Share the Objective:

  1. We will be talking about:
    1. How productivity can enhance the lives of older people as well as the lives of others.
    2. Various types of productive activities.
    3. How to find other organizations you may be interested in.
  2. During this lesson, I will be providing information, but it is also important that we share information and ask questions in group discussion. I would appreciate it if each of you could bring up at least one example from your life experience.

Also during the lesson today, I’m going to ask each of you to select one idea from the lesson to try out on your own over the next week. Ill pick one, too. Then each of us can share with the group next week how it worked out.

Share the Handout:

This summarizes the main ideas we will be discussing today. [Pass out handout.] Please feel free to take notes and ask questions as they arise.


  1. How productivity can enhance the lives of older people as well as the lives of others:
    1. Most older adults value productive activity and want to be productive in some way.
    2. Older adults have a wealth of experience and ideas and energy which they can contribute to their communities.
    3. Any activity is considered productive activity if it produces goods or services OR if it creates a capacity for others to be productive OR if it yields personal benefits. Another way to judge whether an activity is productive: How do you feel after you have performed it? If you feel good and perceive an overall gain, chances are that the activity is a productive one.
  2. There are various types of productive activities that older people can engage in. Can each of you think of what some of those might be? Allow participants to name several ways to be productive. When they have all spoken, add the following to the list the group has suggested to the extent these have not already been suggested:
    1. Paid work.
    2. Volunteer work (for organizations).
    3. Informally helping friends/family in variety of ways— providing emotional support or helping them to do things.
    4. Household activities—cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc.
    5. Errands.
    6. Caring for children—grandchildren or other children.
    7. Caring for other adults.
    8. Creating artistic works—writing stories, writing an autobiography, writing songs, painting, making pottery.
    9. Creating things that are useful—machines, research.
    10. Involvement in political or religious activities.
    11. Improvement of mind and body—education, exercise.
  3. Today we will focus on local resources for paid employment, volunteer work, education and the variety of community organizations in which seniors might want to get involved.
    1. Paid work—Older workers are seen as stable, reliable, loyal and having a good work ethic. Employers often make special efforts to recruit seniors as employees, such as Home Depot working with AARP in an effort to encourage older adults to apply for jobs within their company. Other examples: school crossing guard, respite care, security guard, temporary staffing, childcare, teaching music or dance lessons.
    2. Formal volunteer work – In 2004, over 17 million people aged 55 or older—almost 30% of people in this age group —were volunteers and the assistance they provide is priceless. Organizations that often are in need of volunteers include: schools or libraries, senior companion programs, RSVP, hospitals, nursing homes and hospices, museums, religious, political and environmental groups.
    3. Education—Keeping your mind active is also important. Research has shown that if you have a college education you have a better chance of maintaining your health, independence and longevity. Educational opportunities can be found at state universities, community colleges, continuing education or distance learning courses, Elderhostel, study or discussion groups, senior theatre programs, music, art or dance programs, travel study groups and courses and senior center programs.
    4. Join a Group—Many older adults find that group membership is beneficial to active aging. Networking with people who have common interests can enhance your life and create new and lasting friendships. Some groups you can look into include wellness groups, library or bookstore reading groups, hobby and craft groups, fitness and exercise groups, political and religious organizations, Veteran’s organizations, community gardening and parks recreation groups, and also national organizations like AARP.
    5. There is a wide variety of organizations available locally, political, religious, artistic and activity-oriented that may be of interest to you. Listings for these organizations can be found in local newspapers and the materials provided during the lesson.
  4. Active Aging and Positive Thinking—Research has found that keeping a positive attitude about aging can extend your life by seven and a half years. A study funded by the National Institute on aging analyzed data collected from 660 men and women to discover these findings. The researchers compared responses to questions on aging in 1975 and examined how their responses predicated their survival up to 23 years later. They found those with more positive views on aging were living longer. This takes into account factors like age, gender, socioeconomic status, functional and self-reported health and loneliness.
  5. This is a perfect time to accomplish goals you've set for yourself. It is also a good time to set new goals. Active aging is essential to maintaining your good health. Whether you start a new career, pursue a lifelong dream or read a book to children at a local school, you can make a positive difference in your life and the lives of others. You have the opportunity to make retirement an enhancement of your life.

Modeling And Guided Practice:

Give each Learner a copy of free local senior newspaper or community organization materials. Let’s go through this information and each find activities or organizations that we think might interest us.

Share the college course catalogs with participants as well. Ask them to choose some courses that might fit their schedule and interests.

Discuss activities written on the classroom white board which illustrate “active aging” and activities that can be both fun and educational.

Monitoring / Discussion:

Q: Is there anything we talked about today that you had not heard of before?

Q: Is there anything you have heard about today or seen in the materials given to you that you might actually pursue? Why or why not?

Independent Practice:

This can be done at any time during the lesson. It seems to work better when it is not done in the rush at the end of a meeting. "I’d like for each of us to select at least one idea, from what we're learning, to try out this week. Let’s choose something easy to experiment with. Next week we can all compare our experiences and see what worked and what didn't."

Closure/ Transition:

Look at next week’s lesson plan for: “Set up at previous meeting.”

It begins: “Next week, we will be exploring . . ..”