Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between apolipoprotein E (APOE), life events and engagement, and subjective well-being (as measured by positive and negative affect) among centenarians. Based on the life stress paradigm, we predicted that higher levels of stress would allow APOE to influence positive and negative affect. Method: 196 centenarians and near-centenarians (98 years and older) of the Georgia Centenarian Study participated in this research. The APOE, positive and negative affect, the number of recent (last 2 years) and lifelong (more than 20 years prior to testing) events, as well as a number of life engagement tasks were assessed. Results: Results suggested that centenarians carrying the APOE ?4 allele rated lower in positive affect, the number of lifelong events, and in engaged lifestyle, when compared to centenarians without the APOE ?4 allele (t = 3.43, p < .01; t = 3.19, p < .01; and t = 2.33, p < .05, respectively). Blockwise multiple regressions indicated that the APOE ?4 predicted positive but not negative affect after controlling for demographics. Gene-environment interactions were obtained for the APOE ?4 and lifelong events, suggesting that carriers of the APOE ?4 allele had higher scores of negative affect after having experienced more events, whereas noncarriers had reduced negative affect levels after having experienced more events. Conclusion: APOE ?4 is directly related to positive affect and is related to negative affect in interaction with life events.
Affect and loneliness are important indicators of mental health and well-being in older adulthood and are linked to significant outcomes including physical health and mortality. Given a large focus on young-old adults within gerontological research, the primary aim of this study was to examine the ability of individual and social resources in predicting affect and loneliness within a sample of oldest-old individuals including centenarians, an understudied population.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between physical health and psychological well-being among oldest-old adults. Structural equation modeling was performed to examine health influences on psychological well-being among 306 octogenarians and centenarians from the Georgia Centenarian Study. Latent variables were created to reflect subjective health, as measured by self-ratings of health and objective health, as measured by physical health impairment (i.e., health problems, past and present diseases, hospitalization) and biomarkers (i.e., hemoglobin and albumin). Psychological well-being was measured by positive and negative affect. There were significant direct effects of subjective health on affect and significant indirect effects of objective health through subjective health on positive affect and negative affect. Subjective health took the role of a mediator between objective health and psychological well-being. These results highlight the status and perceptions of health as a critical indicator for well-being in extreme old age.
We investigated the influence of social relations on health outcomes in very late life by examining the support-efficacy convoy model among older adults who resided in three different residential environments (centenarians in private homes, n = 126; centenarians in assisted living facilities, n = 55; centenarians in nursing homes, n = 105). For each group, path analytic models were employed to test our hypotheses; analyses controlled for sex, mental status, education, perceived economic sufficiency, and activities of daily living. The hypothesized relationships among the models variables were unique to each of the three groups; three different models fit the data depending upon residential environment. The direct and indirect effects of social relations assessments were positive for the mental and physical health of very old adults, suggesting that participants welcomed the support. However, residential status moderated the associations between the assessments of social relations, self-efficacy, and both outcomes, physical and mental health.
While it is understood that longevity and health are influenced by complex interactions among biological, psychological, and sociological factors, there is a general lack of understanding on how psychosocial factors impact longevity, health, and quality of life among the oldest old. One of the reasons for this paradox is that the amount of funded research on aging in the US is significantly larger in the biomedical compared to psychosocial domains. The goals of this paper are to highlight recent data to demonstrate the impact of four pertinent psychosocial domains on health and quality of life of the oldest old and supplement recommendations of the 2001 NIA Panel on Longevity for future research. The four domains highlighted in this paper are (1) demographics, life events, and personal history, (2) personality, (3) cognition, and (4) socioeconomic resources and support systems.
As exceptional survivors, centenarians may have characteristics that reduce their dependency on family and community support systems despite the expectation that their extreme age creates a burden on those systems. The Georgia Centenarian Study obtained information about assistance for income, medical care, and caregiving of all types for a sample of centenarians and octogenarians. Previous studies have not established which characteristics may contribute to economic dependency among the oldest old.
An estimated 20% of adults over the age of 55 experience clinical mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. For older adults, mental health concerns are often undetected, concomitant with physical challenges, and ultimately go untreated. These realities have significant implications for older adults day-to-day functioning, particularly among the oldest old.
The purpose of this study was to analyze various family history variables (i.e. childhood health, financial situation while growing up, living with grandparents before age 17, and number of children) among participants of the Georgia Centenarian Study.
Used a population-based sample (Georgia Centenarian Study, GCS), to determine proportions of centenarians reaching 100 years as (1) survivors (43%) of chronic diseases first experienced between 0-80 years of age, (2) delayers (36%) with chronic diseases first experienced between 80-98 years of age, or (3) escapers (17%) with chronic diseases only at 98 years of age or older. Diseases fall into two morbidity profiles of 11 chronic diseases; one including cardiovascular disease, cancer, anemia, and osteoporosis, and another including dementia. Centenarians at risk for cancer in their lifetime tended to be escapers (73%), while those at risk for cardiovascular disease tended to be survivors (24%), delayers (39%), or escapers (32%). Approximately half (43%) of the centenarians did not experience dementia. Psychiatric disorders were positively associated with dementia, but prevalence of depression, anxiety, and psychoses did not differ significantly between centenarians and an octogenarian control group. However, centenarians were higher on the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) than octogenarians. Consistent with our model of developmental adaptation in aging, distal life events contribute to predicting survivorship outcome in which health status as survivor, delayer, or escaper appears as adaptation variables late in life.
The goals of this study were to uncover the criteria by which centenarians, proxy/caregivers, and interviewers rated centenarians mental health. Often proxy and interviewer reports are obtained in studies of the oldest-old and become a primary source of information.
This study assessed engaged lifestyle activities (e.g., volunteering, traveling, and public speaking) for centenarians of the Georgia Centenarian Study. A total of 285 centenarians and near-centenarians (i.e., 98 years and older) and their proxy informants participated in this study. The Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) was assessed for all centenarians, and proxy informants reported on lifestyle activities and personality traits of the centenarians. Results suggested that participants who had volunteered, traveled, and those who had given public talks and balanced their checkbooks were more likely to show relatively high mental status scores (i.e., MMSE > 17). Personality traits were found to be moderators in the relationship between engaged lifestyle and mental status: Participants with high levels of Emotional Stability, Extraversion, Openness, and Conscientiousness and with high levels of engaged lifestyle were more likely to show relatively high mental status scores (i.e., MMSE > 17), whereas participants with low levels of Emotional Stability, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness and with low levels of engaged lifestyle were more likely to show relatively low mental status scores (i.e., MMSE < 18). The results suggest that engaged lifestyle, particularly in combination with personality traits, plays an important role in the level of cognitive functioning among oldest old adults.
Regarding the purpose of this study, the researchers analyzed the roles that both life events (life-time positive events and life-time negative events) and personality (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Trust, Competence, and Ideas) played in participants of the Georgia Centenarian Study. The researchers analyzed these variables to determine whether they predicted loneliness. Analyses indicated that life-time negative events significantly predicted loneliness. In essence, the higher was the number of life-time negative life events, the higher was the loneliness score. Moreover, Neuroticism, Competence, and Ideas were all significant predictors of loneliness. The higher was the level of Neuroticism and intellectual curiosity, the higher was the level of loneliness, whereas the lower was the level of Competence, the higher was the level of loneliness. In addition, both life-time positive and life-time negative life events were significant predictors of Neuroticism. The higher was the number of life-time positive events, the lower was the level of Neuroticism, and the higher was the number of life-time negative events, the greater was the level of Neuroticism. These results indicated that life-time negative events indirectly affect loneliness via Neuroticism. Last, our results indicated that the Competence facet mediated the relationship between lifetime negative life events and loneliness. Life-time negative life events significantly affected centenarians perceived competence, and Competence in turn significantly affected the centenarians loneliness. These results as a whole not only add to our understanding of the link between personality and loneliness, but also provide new insight into how life events predict loneliness.
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