Adaptation for Growth Via Learning New Skills as a Means to Long-Term Functional Independence in Older Adulthood: Insights From Emerging Adulthood

Courtney Nguyen, Shirley Leanos, Misaki N. Natsuaki, George W. Rebok, Rachel Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Maintenance of functional independence, or the ability to perform daily tasks independently, is a hallmark of successful aging. Healthy older adults are considered functionally independent if they pass a short survey consisting of relatively simple daily activities, including grocery shopping and managing finances. We argue that aging research often has overlooked an important factor for long-term functional independence in a dynamic environment: adaptation for growth via learning new skills. Previous research has focused primarily on compensation and mitigating decline rather than growth. Given that adaptation for growth is at the core of intelligence, resilience, and neuroplasticity, we suggest that functional independence research with older adults could integrate adaptation for growth into the construct, following research on adolescent autonomy and emerging adulthood. After briefly reviewing research on functional independence and compensation in older adulthood, we offer suggestions to push forward gerontological research linking adaptation for growth and functional independence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-11
Number of pages8
JournalGerontologist
Volume60
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 24 2020

Keywords

  • Emerging adulthood
  • Functional independence
  • Lifespan development
  • Successful aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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