The Summer 2011 issue of the American Journal of Play contains a wonderful article titled “Older-Adult Playfulness: An Innovative Construct and Measurement for Healthy Aging Research,” by Careen Yarna and Xinyi Qian!
Through using a previously developed Adult Playfulness Scale (The Adult Playfulness Scale, Glynn and Webster, 1992), the researchers created a valid and reliable measure of playfulness in older adults. Research will continue in an upcoming article about the relationship between this behavior in older adults and healthy aging. The hope is not only to spread awareness of the significance and relevance adult playfulness has in our lives, but to also establish scientific credibility for studies of playfulness.
Few studies of adult playfulness exist, but limited research on older adults and playfulness suggests that playfulness in later life improves cognitive, emotional, social, and psychological functioning and healthy aging overall. Older adults represent a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population, underscoring the need to understand the aging process. In this article, the authors report on the first three steps of a four-step, multimethod approach to test the hypothesis that playfulness is an important component of healthy aging in older adults. Step 1 determines the characteristics of older-adult playfulness, extending Barnett’s (2007) study of young-adult playfulness and recruiting participants from a different age group (older adults rather than younger adults). Based on findings from Step 1, in Step 2 the authors develop the Older Adult Playfulness (OAP) scale to measure playfulness in older adults. In Step 3, they validate the reliability of the OAP scale. A forthcoming manuscript will report on the relationship between older adult playfulness and healthy aging (Step 4). Key words: adult playfulness; child playfulness; Older-Adult Playfulness (OAP) scale; older adults