Correlates of self-rated successful aging among community-dwelling older adults

Lori P Montross, Colin Depp, John Daly, Jennifer Reichstadt, Shahrokh Golshan, David Moore, David Sitzer, Dilip V Jeste
American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2006, 14 (1): 43-51

OBJECTIVE: There is no consensus on how to define successful aging. The authors sought to determine the correlates of self-rated successful aging as well as its correspondence with major researcher-defined criteria.

METHODS: Participants were 205 community-dwelling adults over age 60. A questionnaire survey asked the participants to rate their own degree of successful aging and inquired about demographic characteristics, medical history, activity levels, resilience, daily functioning, and health-related quality of life (Medical Outcomes study 36-item Short-Form [MOS-SF-36]). Participants' subjective ratings of successful aging were contrasted with sets of researcher-defined criteria, and correlates of subjectively rated successful aging were examined.

RESULTS: Ninety-two percent of the participants rated themselves as aging successfully. A majority of them also met other research criteria for successful aging such as independent living, mastery/growth, and positive adaptation but not those requiring an absence of chronic medical illness or physical disability. Higher SF-36 scores as compared with a published sample indirectly corroborated participants' subjectively rated successful aging. Subjective ratings of successful aging were significantly correlated with higher scores on health-related quality of life as well as resilience, greater activity, and number of close friends but not with several demographic characteristics.

CONCLUSION: Most community-dwelling older adults viewed themselves as aging successfully despite having chronic physical illnesses and some disability. Longitudinal studies of the reliability and validity of subjective ratings of successful aging are warranted.

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