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What does ‘successful ageing’ mean?

After they had examined what exactly is meant by ‘successful ageing’, researchers from the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging (NJISA) at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) set out recently to find out what constitutes ‘successful ageing’.

05 Sep 2010

After they had examined what exactly is meant by ‘successful ageing’, researchers from the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging (NJISA) at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) set out recently to find out what constitutes ‘successful ageing’.

After conducting telephone surveys of more than 5,600 New Jersey residents aged between 50 and 74, they report that people are more likely to age successfully if they are educated, have never been incarcerated, are married, consume only moderate amounts of alcohol and either work for pay or do volunteer work.

The researchers examined how factors early in life, as well as current behaviours, distinguished four groups of older individuals; those who aged successfully according to objective criteria; those who aged successfully according to subjective criteria; those who were successful according to both measures, and those who aged successfully according to neither set of criteria.

Their findings, with detail on their study, are reported in The Gerontologist.

Lead author Dr Rachel Pruchno, director of research at NJISA, said that what you do before age 50 will generally have a big impact on how well you age.

“Our research shows how ageing is a lifelong process. The person you become at a very old age is really a function of how you lived your earlier years.”

“Education and incarceration were particularly strong factors,” she said. The fact that the US has a large number of people in prison serving relatively short sentences could herald a significant public health problem in the future.

Although marriage also coincided with successful ageing, the researchers did not find that being childless appeared to have a negative impact.

 


Published: 05 Sep 2010