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This article discusses developments in theory and research on happiness two decades after publication of Psychological Well-Being in Later Life (Butterworths, 1991) by Albert Kozma, Michael Stones, and Kevin McNeil. Major empirical advances include new knowledge about contributions to happiness resulting from genetically related effects and personality. Personality traits have stronger relationships with happiness than was apparent 20 years ago and contribute to covariance between happiness and some of its predictors. Evolving emphases in research include the ways in which genetically related effects influence how people shape, and react to, their environment.
Objective: To compare demographic and functional characteristics of elderly users and non-users of home care services in urban Nova Scotia (n = 533) and Newfoundland (n = 449) using a cross sectional study design.
Results: More Nova Scotians (24%) than Newfoundlanders (11%) received home care services. In both provinces, most ADL-dependent people do not receive home care services, and most home care users are not ADL dependent. In Newfoundland, home care users were more likely to be ADL dependent and to have dementia; this was not the case in Nova Scotia. In Nova Scotia being over age 85 without a supporter in the same residence, not being married, and having an IADL limitation significantly increased the likelihood of home care use. IADL impaired subjects in Newfoundland were also more likely to receive home care.
Conclusions: If home care is to substitute for institutional care, existing home care programs must be prepared to adapt to a new type of user.
In a sample of 1449 adults, divided by age into young, middle-age, and old, mood was found to consist of two age invariant components, vigour and affect. Factor structure differed by age for affect but not vigour. For old adults, two unipolar affect factors were obtained, whereas one bipolar affect factor was obtained for the two younger groups. From these factor analyses a mood scale (the Memorial University Mood Scale, the MUMS) was developed and its predictive validity and reliability established for all age groups. Using the MUMS, mean level differences by age were found in both vigour and affect, as well as a measure of globed mood, with the old adults higher on all three measures. Age invariant, diurnal patterns were found for both vigour and affect. Vigour followed an inverted U-shaped diurnal pattern and affect a primarily linear pattern, suggestive of appraisals of somatic state and environmental conditions, respectively.
In this study, a number of demographic, health, and personality measures were collected from a sample of institutionalized and non-institutionalized elderly people in Newfoundland. These measures were then regressed on the number of medicines used. The analyses showed that the primary predictor of medicine use in both samples is Disease Severity, a combination of the number of different diseases or disorders and the extent of their severity. This factor accounts for about 28 to 33 per cent of the variance. No other factor predicted medicine use for institutionalized elderly, but for non-institutionalized elderly, Health Rating, how the individual perceives his or her own health, accounts for an additional 5 to 7 per cent of the variance. Disease Severity and Health Rating do not interact, but make independent, additive contributions to predicting medicine use. Disease Severity and Health Rating also predict total drug use and changes in drug use over a period of 12 to 18 months. When variance due to Disease Severity and Health Rating are accounted for, sex and age do not significantly predict medicine use.
Findings are presented on the psychometric properties of a short psychological hardiness measure using subjects predominantly aged over 60 years. The sample of 223 participants was administered the hardiness questionnaire and other instruments twice, with a one-year test-retest interval. First-order factor analysis yielded three factors termed challenge, control, and commitment. Second-order factor analysis revealed a single main factor of general hardiness on which all the first-order components loaded highly. Both internal consistency and test-retest forms of reliability were in the range 0.6 to 0.7. Concurrent validity was illustrated by significant correlations between hardiness and measures of happiness and adjustment.
Responses to a Life Events Schedule were obtained from 408 elderly respondents at both phases of an 18-month longitudinal investigation. Sixteen items were identified with an incidence exceeding 5% at both phases. These items were found to be structurally unrelated. Temporal stability coefficients that were statistically significant, but generally of low magnitude, were obtained for a greater proportion of the usual stressors than for the less frequently endorsed items. The reasons for stability were suggested to be multifarious. Statistically significant correlations with happiness were obtained for few stress items. The items exhibiting correlations at both phases were associated with high incidences, and the direction of the correlations varied with the direction of stress (i.e., positive or negative).
The present investigation represents a re-validation of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Scale of Happiness (MUNSH) and its Negative (NAS) and Positive Affect (PAS) subscales in an institutionalized sample of elderly urban residents. Self-ratings of happiness (AVHT) and judges' ratings (JR) were used as criterion measures. Correlations between MUNSH scales and AVHT ranged from 0.75 to 0.86, while those between MUNSH scales and JR fell between 0.37 and 0.55. The findings indicate that the MUNSH is as valid for residents of large urban centres as for the smaller centres in which it was initially developed.
Record running performances were compared between male and female athletes within an age range of 40–63 years and over events ranging in distance from 100 yards to the marathon. Curve fitting procedures indicated that age-performance relationships could be accurately expressed by use of an exponential model. Comparison of curve parameters revealed, a) that female performances declines more steeply with age than those of male athletes, b) decline with age was steeper for events beyond sprint distances than for sprint events for both sexes and, c) discrepancies between male and female performances did not relate significantly to event distance.
A kin selection model is offered as a feasible alternative to existing formulations of the evolutionary origins of later-life frailty. An assumption made was that reproductive patterns among early human kind were of a polygynous nature, reflecting a compromise of optimal reproductive strategies between males and females. Two general characteristics of polygyny are a delayed reproductive onset for males and an accumulation of wives by older males. The model proposes that paternal frailty occasions the demise of paternal assets to male heirs, which translates into an earlier reproductive onset for those heirs. Quantification of the model demonstrates its potentiality to account for the spread of genes for frailty through kin selection.
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