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Developing a dimensional model for successful cognitive and emotional aging

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 November 2011

Ipsit V. Vahia*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA
Wesley K. Thompson
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA
Colin A. Depp
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA
Matthew Allison
Affiliation:
Department of Family and Preventative Medicine, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA
Dilip V. Jeste
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA
*
Correspondence should be addressed to: Ipsit V. Vahia, M.D., Assistant Project Scientist, Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, #0664, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA. Phone: +1 858-822-3151; Fax: +1 858-543-5475. Email: ivahia@ucsd.edu.

Abstract

Background: There is currently a lack of consensus on the definition of successful aging (SA) and existing implementations have omitted constructs associated with SA. We used empirical methods to develop a dimensional model of SA that incorporates a wider range of associated variables, and we examined the relationship among these components using factor analysis and Bayesian Belief Nets.

Methods: We administered a successful aging questionnaire comprising several standardized measures related to SA to a sample of 1948 older women enrolled in the San Diego site of the Women's Health Initiative study. The SA-related variables we included in the model were self-rated successful aging, depression severity, physical and emotional functioning, optimism, resilience, attitude towards own aging, self-efficacy, and cognitive ability. After adjusting for age, education and income, we fitted an exploratory factor analysis model to the SA-related variables and then, in order to address relationships among these factors, we computed a Bayesian Belief Net (BBN) using rotated factor scores.

Results: The SA-related variables loaded onto five factors. Based on the loading, we labeled the factors as follows: self-rated successful aging, cognition, psychosocial protective factors, physical functioning, and emotional functioning. In the BBN, self-rated successful aging emerged as the primary downstream factor and exhibited significant partial correlations with psychosocial protective factors, physical/general status and mental/emotional status but not with cognitive ability.

Conclusions: Our study represents a step forward in developing a dimensional model of SA. Our findings also point to a potential role for psychiatry in improving successful aging by managing depressive symptoms and developing psychosocial interventions to improve self-efficacy, resilience, and optimism.

Type
2011 IPA JUNIOR RESEARCH AWARDS – FIRST-PRIZE WINNER
Copyright
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2011

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