Date of Conferral





Human Services


Dr. Teresa Tirrito


In developed countries, most healthy retirees still have fears about growing old; however, there is little empirical data on the relationship between this fear and quality of life. This cross-sectional, correlational, survey study tested whether a summated measure of fears of growing old (fear) based on Laslett’s theory of retirement (the third age) significantly predicted life satisfaction and retirement satisfaction after adjusting for significant activity theory covariates. 190 Canadian volunteer retirees at 3 community retirement centers completed surveys. A pilot study established the reliability and valdity of the scales, including an instrument Fears about Growing Old derived from Laslett’s exemplifications, used to assess the independent variable. In a regresion analysis, fear (R2 change = .06) was found to be a statistically signficant predictor of life satisfaction when controlling for 5 covariates (activity level, circumstance on the last job, non job-related interests, post-retirement work, and social support); overall R2 = .26. In the model with retirement satisfaction as the outcome, fear significantly explained variance in the outcome (R2 change = .04) while controlling for 2 significant covariates (activity level and social support); overall R2 = .14. A separate analysis did not support a work by gender interaction on satisfaction. The highest rated fears were loss of indpendence and loss of mobility, and men rated loss of partner very high while women rated disease very high. Implications for positive social change include preparing employers, counselors, workers at senior centers, and spouses to discuss these fears with prospective and recent retirees to help them cope more effectively which can lead to improved quality of life.