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The factors influencing successful aging (SA) are of great interest in an aging society. The aims of this study were to investigate the prevalence of SA, the relative importance across age of the three components used to define it (absence of disease and disability, high cognitive and physical function, and active engagement with life), and its correlates.
Data were extracted from the population-based cross-sectional Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT3 2006–2008). Individuals aged 70–89 years with complete datasets for the three components were included (N = 5773 of 8,040, 71.8%). Of the respondents, 54.6% were women. Univariate and multivariate regression analyses were used to analyze possible correlates of SA.
Overall, 35.6% of the sample met one of the three criteria, 34.1% met combinations, and 14.5% met all of the three criteria. The most demanding criterion was high function, closely followed by absence of disease, while approximately two-thirds were actively engaged in life. The relative change with age was largest for the high cognitive and physical function component and smallest for active engagement with life. The significant correlates of SA were younger age, female gender, higher education, weekly exercise, more satisfaction with life, non-smoking, and alcohol consumption, whereas marital status was not related to SA.
The prevalence of SA in this study (14.5%) is comparable to previous studies. It may be possible to increase the prevalence by intervention directed toward more exercise, non-smoking, and better satisfaction with life.
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