Faculty Articles

The Positive Power of Perception in Late Life: A Study on Subjective Aging and Health among Ethnic Minorities

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OBM Geriatrics





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Background: The world’s aging population is growing and diversifying at an unprecedented rate. In preparation for this, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued calls to improve the overall health of older adults. A promising avenue of research to improve health in late life has been dedicated to subjective aging; the way people perceive their own aging process. The main objective of this empirical study was to investigate subjective aging in late life among ethnic minorities in the United States. Specifically, this socio-historic study examined age identity, or how old one feels, in relation to psychological well-being and functional health.

Methods: This study utilized data from the Midlife Development in the United States Study (MIDUS), Survey of Minority Groups.

Results: Results indicated the sampled population predominately reported a younger age identity, that is, felt younger than their actual age with higher age related to great discrepancy between felt and actual age. Although there were no differences in aging identity among specific ethnic backgrounds or levels of education, gender-related differences were found with men feeling younger than women. Another key finding was that younger age identity predicted higher levels of psychological well-being and functional health. Lastly, psychological well-being mediated the association between age identity and functional health, even while controlling for age and gender.

Conclusions: These findings contribute to the literature by extending previous research on subjective aging and health to ethnic minorities. Moreover, these results have clinical and research implications for professionals in the field of geriatrics.



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