Successful aging, life satisfaction, and generativity in later life


This article explores the meanings older people attach to successful aging and life satisfaction and how these concepts can be differentiated. Forty elderly employees of the Ozarks Area Foster Grandparent Program (ages 61-92) were randomly selected and interviewed using an open-ended survey questionnaire. These questions explored understandings of successful aging and life satisfaction, the factors essential for each, and the differences perceived between these concepts. Qualitative data were coded by two independent reviewers. Respondents' understandings of successful aging involved attitudinal or coping orientations nearly twice as often as those for life satisfaction. Descriptions of life satisfaction emphasized the fulfillment of basic needs and was viewed as a precursor to successful aging. Content analysis confirmed five features of successful aging: interactions with others, a sense of purpose, self-acceptance, personal growth, and autonomy. The findings suggest that generativity contributes to successful aging and remains a vital developmental task in later life.

Document Type




Publication Date


Journal Title

International Journal of Aging and Human Development