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Helping Older Adults Pursue the Good Life: Advice from Sages and Social Psychologists

Shang-Ti Chen, John Dattilo, Francisco Javier Lopez Frias


Philosophical discourses of sages help identify possible paths for older adults to achieve the good life. Empirical evidence of social psychological research provides information to understand human behavior related to pursuing the good life as we age. Taken together, exploring writings of sages and studies by social psychologists may assist therapeutic recreation specialists in understanding how older adults may pursue the good life and subsequently, lead to a good life. The purpose of this article is to explore philosophical discourse of sages and empirical evidence of social psychological research to increase our understanding of ways therapeutic recreation (TR) specialists may facilitate the good life as people age. By reviewing the social-psychological literature, we identify three prominent challenges that occur as we age including loneliness, ageism, and fears. Further, we explore perspectives by sages that result in recommendations for engaging in three virtuous actions, namely, practicing forgiveness, acting courageously, and being friendly as possible ways for people to pursue the good life. Implications associated with writings of sages and studies by social psychologists have the potential to inform TR services.

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Good life; older adults; therapeutic recreation services; virtuous actions

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