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Associations Between Satisfaction With Aging and Health and Well-being Outcomes Among Older US Adult

JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(2):e2147797. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.47797


Key Points

Question Is aging satisfaction (one’s beliefs about their own aging) associated with physical, behavioral, and psychosocial outcomes?

Findings In this nationwide cohort study of US adults older than 50 years, being in the highest (vs lowest) quartile of aging satisfaction was associated with improvements in some health behaviors (eg, increased likelihood of engaging in frequent physical activity), physical health conditions (eg, reduced risk of mortality), and psychosocial well-being factors (eg, reduced risk of depression) 4 years later, conditional on prebaseline aging satisfaction.

Meaning This study suggests that higher aging satisfaction is associated with improved subsequent health and well-being and highlights potential outcomes if scalable aging satisfaction interventions were developed and deployed at scale.

Abstract

Importance Researchers and policy makers are expanding the focus from risk factors of disease to seek potentially modifiable health factors that enhance people’s health and well-being. Understanding if and to what degree aging satisfaction (one’s beliefs about their own aging) is associated with a range of health and well-being outcomes aligns with the interests of older adults, researchers, health systems, and politicians.

Objectives To evaluate associations between changes in aging satisfaction and 35 subsequent health and well-being outcomes.

Design, Setting, and Participants This cohort study used data from the Health and Retirement Study, a national, diverse, and longitudinal sample of 13 752 US adults older than 50 years, to evaluate if changes in aging satisfaction (between combined cohorts from 2008 and 2010 and 4 years later, in 2012 and 2014) were subsequently associated with 35 indicators of physical, behavioral, and psychosocial health and well-being in 2016 and 2018. Statistical analysis was conducted from July 24, 2020, to November 6, 2021.

Exposure Aging satisfaction.

Main Outcomes and Measures A total of 35 physical (eg, stroke), behavioral (eg, sleep problems), and psychosocial (eg, depression) outcomes were evaluated using multiple linear and generalized linear regression models. Data from all participants, irrespective of how their levels of aging satisfaction changed from the prebaseline to baseline waves, were incorporated into the overall estimate, which was conditional on prior satisfaction.

Results During the 4-year follow-up period, participants (N = 13 752; 8120 women [59%]; mean [SD] age, 65 [10] years; median age, 64 years [IQR, 56-72 years]; 7507 of 11 824 married [64%]) in the highest (vs lowest) quartile of aging satisfaction had improved physical health (eg, 43% reduced risk of mortality [risk ratio, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.46-0.71]), better health behaviors (eg, 23% increased likelihood of frequent physical activity [risk ratio, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.12-1.34]), and improved psychosocial well-being (eg, higher positive affect [β = 0.51; 95% CI, 0.44-0.58] and lower loneliness [β = −0.41; 95% CI, −0.48 to −0.33]), conditional on prebaseline aging satisfaction.

Conclusions and Relevance This study suggests that higher aging satisfaction is associated with improved subsequent health and well-being. These findings highlight potential outcomes if scalable aging satisfaction interventions were developed and deployed at scale; they also inform the efforts of policy makers and interventionists who aim to enhance specific health and well-being outcomes. Aging satisfaction may be an important target for future interventions aiming to improve later-life health and well-being.



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