Golden years often spent working, volunteering, care-taking

Eight in 10 Americans age 55 and older spend some of their time working, volunteering or caring for family members, new research says.

Three studies of how older adults spend their time are part of a research series, “Perspectives on Productive Aging,” conducted by the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., and funded through a grant from New York City-based Atlantic Philanthropies.

Today, two in 10 Americans, or 65.4 million people, are 55 or older, a number expected to rise to three in 10 over the next 25 years.

Older Americans spend an average of 1,300 hours a year working, volunteering or providing care for others, with nine in 10 people age 55 to 64 taking part in at least one such activity, the research says.

Almost four in 10 seniors provide some sort of care for children, grandchildren or aging parents, averaging about 580 hours a year, the research says, with about half those age 55 to 64 working full-time as well.

About three in 10 participate in formal volunteer activities.

More than six in 10 older adults say they are satisfied with their retirement, but that number is higher for people actively engaged in working, volunteering or care giving.

Satisfaction with retirement increases as the amount of activity reaches 500 hours a year, the research says, but shows no correlation above beyond that.

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