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Well-Being in Canadian Seniors: Findings from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 November 2010

Philippa J. Clarke
University of Toronto
Victor W. Marshall
University of North Carolina
Carol D. Ryff
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Carolyn J. Rosenthal
McMaster University


While aging is associated with increased health problems and disability, most seniors subjectively rate their health positively, and view aging as a positive period of life evaluation, increased wisdom and maturity. The somewhat paradoxical nature of these findings suggests that later life well-being is multidimensional and variable. Drawing on data from a nationally representative survey, this paper describes the subjective well-being of a sample of Canadian seniors, using the Ryff multidimensional measure of well-being, and investigates the effects of various demographic, health and socio-economic conditions on reported levels of well-being. Seniors’ well-being is robust in terms of the dimension of autonomy, which is resilient to the physical and social circumstances of later life. But, as seniors age, they experience declines in their sense of purpose in life and opportunities for personal growth, in part, due to socio-economic factors. Good health and functional status are important for seniors’ sense of mastery over their surrounding world.


Bien que le vieillissement soit associé aux problèmes de santé et à l'invalidité, la plupart des aîné(e)s évaluent leur santé sur une note positive et considèrent le vieillissement comme une période positive d'évaluation de la vie, d'accroissement de la sagesse et de maturité. La nature plutôt paradoxale de ces résultats laisse entendre que le bien-être en fin de vie se présente sous différents aspects. S'inspirant de données d'un échantillonnage national, ce document décrit le bien-être de certains aîné(e)s canadien(ne)s, en utilisant l'échelle multidimentionnelle Ryff et il examine les effets de différents éléments demographiques, socio-économiques et de santé sur les niveaux de bien-être signalés. L'autonomie est une composante robuste du bien-être des aîné(e)s, qui résiste aux conditions physiques et sociales de l'âge avancé. Mais, au fur et à mesure que les aîné(e)s vieillissent, ils constatent une diminution du sens de leur vie et des occasions de croissance provenant en partie de facteurs socio-économiques. Une bonne santé et un état fonctionnel permettent aux aîné(e)s de conserver un sentiment de maîtrise de leur environnement.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2000

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