Occupations of older adults: A cross cultural description

Gunilla M. Eriksson, Jenny C.C. Chung, Lim Hua Beng, Adina Hartman-Maeir, Eunyoung Yoo, Elsa M. Orellano, Fenna Van Nes, Desleigh De Jonge, Carolyn M. Baum*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Participation in everyday occupations influences people's health and well-being. To enable individuals to do the activities they want and need to do is the main concern of occupational therapy practice. Many daily occupations are universal, but they also depend on culture. The development of the Activity Card Sort in eight countries has offered the opportunity to describe occupations across cultures. In the developmental process of culturally relevant versions of the Activity Card Sort by occupational therapists in each country, the instrument versions included samples of older adults (N = 468). These data are used in the current description with the aim of identifying central activities across cultures and central activities for Asian and Western cultures. Ten activities were identified as being central across cultures (i.e., more than half of the older adults in all eight countries performed them). They were the following: shopping in a store, doing grocery shopping, doing dishes, doing laundry, reading books or magazines, sitting and thinking, watching television, listening to radio or music, visiting with friends and relatives, and talking on the telephone. Further, 16 additional activities central to Asian culture and 18 activities central to Western culture were identified. The identification of central activities deepens knowledge of activities with cultural significance. This knowledge is needed in clinical practice and multicultural research. This description provides a starting point for further exploration of everyday occupations among older adults.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)182-192
Number of pages11
JournalOTJR Occupation, Participation and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011


  • Activities of daily living
  • Aging
  • Leisure


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