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Aspects of eudaimonic well-being, such as personal growth (PG) and purpose in life (PL), have been highlighted as important to older adults’ health. We investigated the relationship of PG and PL with patterns of survival to the age of 85 years and older.
The sample included 8,880 women from the Women's Health Initiative cohort who reached 85 years of age by December 1, 2013, and for whom data on the PG and PL constructs were available. Women were classified into mutually exclusive outcomes: Healthy, Prevalent, Incident, Disabled, and Deceased. PG and PL were each assessed using a modified seven-item measure derived from the Psychological Well-Being scale.
Women were most commonly classified as Healthy (38.2%, n = 3,395), followed by Incident (24.4%, n = 2,163), Disabled (19.0%, n = 1,685), Prevalent (14.3%, 1,273), and Deceased (4.1%, n = 364). Women with low PL and PG levels were more likely to have prevalent mobility disability and disease or incident death before the age of 85 years. Specifically, those who reported low levels of PG and PL had a 2.1- and 3.6-fold higher risk, respectively, of death.
These findings indicate that even among the oldest old, experience of purposeful life engagement and continuing PG may contribute to better health outcomes.
The purpose of this study was to describe the longitudinal trajectories and bidirectional relationships of the physical-social and emotional functioning (EF) dimensions of positive aging and to identify their baseline characteristics.
Women age 65 and older who enrolled in one or more Women's Health Initiative clinical trials (WHI CTs) and who had positive aging indicators measured at baseline and years 1, 3, 6, and 9 were included in these analyses (N = 2281). Analytic strategies included latent class growth modeling to identify longitudinal trajectories and multinomial logistic regression to examine the effects of baseline predictors on these trajectories.
A five-trajectory model was chosen to best represent the data. For Physical-Social Functioning (PSF), trajectory groups included Low Maintainer (8.3%), Mid-Low Improver (10.4%), Medium Decliner (10.7%), Mid-High Maintainer (31.2%), and High Maintainer (39.4%); for EF, trajectories included Low Maintainer (3%), Mid-Low Improver (9%), Medium Decliner (7.7%), Mid-High Maintainer (22.8%), and High Maintainer (57.5%). Cross-classification of the groups of trajectories demonstrated that the impact of a high and stable EF on PSF might be greater than the reverse. Low depression symptoms, low pain, and high social support were the most consistent predictors of high EF trajectories.
Aging women are heterogeneous in terms of positive aging indicators for up to 9 years of follow-up. Interventions aimed at promoting sustainable EF might have diffused effects on other domains of healthy aging.
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