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Decline in life satisfaction in old age: longitudinal evidence for links to distance-to-death


Gerstorf, D; Ram, N; Röcke, C; Lindenberger, U; Smith, J (2008). Decline in life satisfaction in old age: longitudinal evidence for links to distance-to-death. Psychology and Aging, 23(1):154-168.

Abstract

Using 12-year longitudinal data from deceased participants of the Berlin Aging Study (N = 414; age 70-103 years, at first occasion; M = 87 years, SD = 8.13), the authors examined whether and how old and very old individuals exhibit terminal decline in reported life satisfaction at the end of life. Relative to age-related decline, mortality-related decline (i.e., distance-to-death) accounted for more variance in interindividual differences in life satisfaction change and revealed steeper average rates of decline, by a factor of 2. By applying change-point growth models, the authors identified a point, about 4 years before death, at which decline showed a two-fold increase in steepness relative to the preterminal phase. For the oldest old (85+ years), a threefold increase was observed. Established mortality predictors, including sex, comorbidities, dementia, and cognition, accounted for only small portions of interindividual differences in mortality-related change in life satisfaction. The authors conclude that late-life changes in subjective well-being are related to mechanisms predicting death and suggest routes for further inquiry.

Abstract

Using 12-year longitudinal data from deceased participants of the Berlin Aging Study (N = 414; age 70-103 years, at first occasion; M = 87 years, SD = 8.13), the authors examined whether and how old and very old individuals exhibit terminal decline in reported life satisfaction at the end of life. Relative to age-related decline, mortality-related decline (i.e., distance-to-death) accounted for more variance in interindividual differences in life satisfaction change and revealed steeper average rates of decline, by a factor of 2. By applying change-point growth models, the authors identified a point, about 4 years before death, at which decline showed a two-fold increase in steepness relative to the preterminal phase. For the oldest old (85+ years), a threefold increase was observed. Established mortality predictors, including sex, comorbidities, dementia, and cognition, accounted for only small portions of interindividual differences in mortality-related change in life satisfaction. The authors conclude that late-life changes in subjective well-being are related to mechanisms predicting death and suggest routes for further inquiry.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:March 2008
Deposited On:02 Mar 2009 14:53
Last Modified:03 Aug 2017 15:02
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0882-7974
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/0882-7974.23.1.154
Related URLs:http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=search.displayRecord&uid=2008-02853-016 (Publisher)
PubMed ID:18361663

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