Attitudes about aging well among a diverse group of older Americans: implications for promoting cognitive health.
PURPOSE: To examine perceptions about aging well in the context of cognitive health among a large and diverse group of older adults. DESIGN AND METHODS: Forty-two focus groups were conducted with older adults living in the community (N = 396; White, African American, American Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Hispanic). Participant descriptions of "someone who you think is aging well" were analyzed. Constant comparison methods examined themes by race/ethnicity. RESULTS: There were notable race/ethnicity differences in perceptions of aging well. Compared with other racial/ethnic groups Chinese participants were more likely to emphasize relationships between mental outlook and physical abilities, Vietnamese participants were less likely to emphasize independent living. American Indians did not relate aging well to diet or physical activity. Important themes that emerged about aging well for all racial/ethnic groups were as follows: living to advanced age, having good physical health, having a positive mental outlook, being cognitively alert, having a good memory, and being socially involved. IMPLICATIONS: To promote cognitive health among diverse populations, communication strategies should focus on shared perceptions of aging well, such as living to an advanced age with intact cognitive function, having a positive attitude, and being mobile. Health promotions may also create a range of culturally sensitive messages, targeted to views that are more salient among some racial/ethnic groups.
Laditka, SB; Corwin, SJ; Laditka, JN; Liu, R; Tseng, W; Wu, B; Beard, RL; Sharkey, JR; Ivey, SL
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