Affect and loneliness among centenarians and the oldest old: the role of individual and social resources.
OBJECTIVES: 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. METHODS: Participants were assessed during the most recent cross-sectional data collection of the Georgia Centenarian Study. The eligible sample included 55 octogenarians (M = 83.70 years, SD = 2.68; range = 81-90) and 77 centenarians (M = 99.78 years, SD = 1.64; range = 98-109). Subjects scored 17 or greater on the Mini-Mental Status Exam and completed mental health assessments. RESULTS: Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the relation of affect and loneliness with demographic characteristics, physical and social functioning, cognition, and personality. Within this sample of cognitively intact oldest old, measures of executive control and cognitive functioning demonstrated limited association with mental health. Personality, specifically neuroticism, was strongly related to mental health indicators for both age groups and social relations were particularly important associates of centenarians' mental health. DISCUSSION: Findings indicate the distinctiveness of mental health indicators and the need to distinguish differential roles of individual and social resources in determining these outcomes among octogenarians and centenarians.
Margrett, JA; Daugherty, K; Martin, P; MacDonald, M; Davey, A; Woodard, JL; Miller, LS; Siegler, IC; Poon, LW
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