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Successful Aging © Paul T. P. Wong. Introduction Different dimensions of aging: Chronological, biological, cultural, experiential, psychological, and.

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Presentation on theme: "Successful Aging © Paul T. P. Wong. Introduction Different dimensions of aging: Chronological, biological, cultural, experiential, psychological, and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Successful Aging © Paul T. P. Wong

2 Introduction Different dimensions of aging: Chronological, biological, cultural, experiential, psychological, and spiritual Different dimensions of aging: Chronological, biological, cultural, experiential, psychological, and spiritual Successful aging means different things to different people Successful aging means different things to different people Too much emphasis on the medical model and physical components Too much emphasis on the medical model and physical components

3 Introduction (cont’d) Increasing recognition of the importance of meaning and spirituality Increasing recognition of the importance of meaning and spirituality Most of the findings support the importance of controllable and internal factors Most of the findings support the importance of controllable and internal factors Successful aging is 80% attitude and 20% everything else Successful aging is 80% attitude and 20% everything else

4 Rowe and Kahn in “Successful Aging”: Low risk of disease and disability Low risk of disease and disability High mental and physical function High mental and physical function Active engagement with life Active engagement with life

5 George Vailliant in " Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development" “Successful aging means giving to others joyously whenever one is able, receiving from others gratefully whenever one needs it, and being greedy enough to develop one's own self in between."

6 Mark Novak in “Successful Aging” "There is no secret, no magic formula. A good old age doesn’t come about from some special talent or as a secret gift. It comes about when, given a basic income, reasonable health, good self-esteem and a little energy, a person sets out to discover a meaningful life for him- or herself." (p. 273)

7 Timothy Moody (http://dallaslibrary.org/ss/03-01.htm) Successful aging involves the ability to complete our lifetime with a balance of inner resources as well as material ones. This would include: Recognizing and enjoying the contributions we have made Recognizing and enjoying the contributions we have made Continuing intellectual and spiritual growth Continuing intellectual and spiritual growth Maintaining good health and increased physical vigor Maintaining good health and increased physical vigor Passing on a legacy of love, courage, and compassion Passing on a legacy of love, courage, and compassion

8 Paul T. P. Wong We have aged successfully, if we feel satisfied that we have become what we were meant to be, accomplished most of our life tasks, contributed to society and future generations, and kept our faith in spite of difficulties and disappointments. Therefore, successful aging is attainable by anyone, regardless of their physical conditions.

9 Becca Levy on the importance of positive attitudes Ageism or negative stereotype has negative effects Ageism or negative stereotype has negative effects Positive attitudes towards aging have positive effects Positive attitudes towards aging have positive effects Self-descriptions of life as hopeful and worthy Self-descriptions of life as hopeful and worthy Don’t dwell on negative changes Don’t dwell on negative changes

10 Becca Levy on the importance of positive attitudes (cont’d) Overall physical health and longevity Overall physical health and longevity Better memory and sharper hearing Better memory and sharper hearing Better mental health Better mental health

11 Contributions from John Rowe and Robert Kahn Debunk the myth that aging has to be accompanied by illness and loss of cognitive functions Debunk the myth that aging has to be accompanied by illness and loss of cognitive functions The influence of genetics shrinks, while social and your lifestyle and attitude become more important The influence of genetics shrinks, while social and your lifestyle and attitude become more important

12 Contributions from John Rowe and Robert Kahn (cont’d) An inactive non-smoker has worse health than a smoker who exercises regularly Strong social ties are even more important in preventing illness than genetic background An inactive non-smoker has worse health than a smoker who exercises regularly Strong social ties are even more important in preventing illness than genetic background The elderly are one of the country's great underutilized productive resources The elderly are one of the country's great underutilized productive resources

13 Contributions from George Vaillant The world’s longest continuous study of aging and health The world’s longest continuous study of aging and health College education is a better predictor of health and happiness than money, social prestige, etc. College education is a better predictor of health and happiness than money, social prestige, etc. Uncontrollable factors, such as genetics, parents social class, family cohesion, are not longer important by age 70 Uncontrollable factors, such as genetics, parents social class, family cohesion, are not longer important by age 70 Controllable factors become more important. These include engage in altruistic behavior, stay physically healthy, pursue education, stay creative and playful, and use mature or adaptive coping Controllable factors become more important. These include engage in altruistic behavior, stay physically healthy, pursue education, stay creative and playful, and use mature or adaptive coping

14 Paul T. P. Wong’s existential/spiritual model of aging The imperative of meeting the existential and spiritual needs of seniors when people live longer The imperative of meeting the existential and spiritual needs of seniors when people live longer People begin to turn inward as they grow older People begin to turn inward as they grow older Personal meaning is the hidden dimension of successful aging Personal meaning is the hidden dimension of successful aging Positive meaning and purpose not only add years to one’s life, but also add life to one’s years Positive meaning and purpose not only add years to one’s life, but also add life to one’s years

15 Paul T. P. Wong’s existential/spiritual model of aging (cont’d) Without a clear sense of meaning and purpose in the face of physical decline, longevity may be an unbearable burden Without a clear sense of meaning and purpose in the face of physical decline, longevity may be an unbearable burden Need to maintain a positive attitude in the face of loss, illness and death Need to maintain a positive attitude in the face of loss, illness and death Death acceptance is related to physical and mental health Death acceptance is related to physical and mental health

16 Paul T. P. Wong on coping and successful aging The imperative of building up inner resources in order to cope with multiple losses The imperative of building up inner resources in order to cope with multiple losses Problem-focused coping becomes less relevant because most difficulties confronting the old-old are beyond their control Problem-focused coping becomes less relevant because most difficulties confronting the old-old are beyond their control Existential and transformative coping become increasingly important for the elderly Existential and transformative coping become increasingly important for the elderly

17 Wong and Reker’s Ontario Successful Aging Project 200 were from Community and 200 from Institutions 200 were from Community and 200 from Institutions Participants were classified as either Successful or Unsuccessful based on ratings on mental, physical health and adjustment Participants were classified as either Successful or Unsuccessful based on ratings on mental, physical health and adjustment Successful and Unsuccessful did not differ in terms of sex or income Successful and Unsuccessful did not differ in terms of sex or income Successful agers had more resources than Unsuccessful agers Successful agers had more resources than Unsuccessful agers

18 Successful agers score higher in the following outcome measures: Health outcomes as measured by a nurse Health outcomes as measured by a nurse Physical symptoms as reported by participants Physical symptoms as reported by participants Psychopathology Psychopathology Depression Depression Perceived well-being Perceived well-being

19 Successful agers scored higher in the following resources: Social resources (social contacts and martial status) Social resources (social contacts and martial status) Cognitive resources (college education and intelligence) Cognitive resources (college education and intelligence) Spiritual resources (religious activity and personal meaning) Spiritual resources (religious activity and personal meaning) Psychological resources (optimism, commitment, self- reliance) Psychological resources (optimism, commitment, self- reliance) Healthy lifestyle (no smoking, no drinking, more exercises, etc.) Healthy lifestyle (no smoking, no drinking, more exercises, etc.)

20 Significant predictors of physical health outcomes Perceived control Perceived control Perceived income Perceived income Commitment to personal projects Commitment to personal projects Social contacts Social contacts Intelligence Intelligence

21 Significant predictors of mental health outcomes Personal meaning Personal meaning Social contacts Social contacts Religious activity Religious activity Marital status Marital status

22 Successful agers employed the following types of coping more often: Situational coping (Problem-focused) Situational coping (Problem-focused) Existential coping (Meaning and Acceptance) Existential coping (Meaning and Acceptance) Religious coping (Beliefs and Activities) Religious coping (Beliefs and Activities) Self-Restructuring (Cognitive and Behavioral) Self-Restructuring (Cognitive and Behavioral) Social support (Instrumental and Emotional support) Social support (Instrumental and Emotional support)

23 The ten commandments for successful aging: 1.Cultivate adequate resources (both internal and external) 2.Embrace religion or spirituality 3.Commit to personal projects 4.Pursue college education 5. Develop your cognitive capacities

24 The ten commandments for successful aging: (cont’d) 6. Get married & stay connected 7.Maintain optimism and zeal for living 8.Pursue a healthy lifestyle 9. Be reflective and flexible in coping 10. Expand yourself in every way (Turn inward, upward, forward and outward)


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