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Health SA Gesondheid (Online)

On-line version ISSN 1025-9848

Abstract

VON HUMBOLDT, Sofia; LEAL, Isabel  and  PIMENTA, Filipa. Staying well in old age: Predicting older adults' wellness. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2013, vol.18, n.1, pp. 1-9. ISSN 1025-9848.

In an ageing world, the potential for ageing well in older people is still relatively unexplored. Literature has suggested that a sense of coherence (SOC) is an important factor with regard to retaining a good quality of life in old age. To explore whether satisfaction with life (SWL), as well as sociodemographic, health- and lifestyle-related variables, are predictors of SOC in a community-dwelling sample of older adults and to assess significant differences in SOC amongst the four nationalities studied. Cross-national research encompassing a community-dwelling sample of 454 older adults aged 75 years and above was undertaken. Sense of coherence was assessed using the Orientation to Life Questionnaire and Satisfaction with Life (SWL) was measured using the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Structural equation modelling was used to investigate a structural model of the self-reported SOC, comprising sociodemographic variables (age, gender, marital status, professional status, educational level, family's annual income and standard of living arrangements), as well as SWL, lifestyle and health-related (physical activity and recent disease) characteristics. Significant predictors were physical activity (β = 0.804; p < 0.001), recent disease (β = 0.501; p < 0.001) and SWL (β = 0.07; p = 0.004). These variables accounted for approximately 57.5% of the variability of SOC. Moreover, differences with regard to SOC were also found amongst the four nationality groups (F(3) = 5.204; p = 0.002). Physical activity is the strongest predictor of self-reported SOC. Other predictors are the absence of a recent disease and SWL. The four nationalities presented significant differences with regard to SOC. This study highlighted the need for understanding the potential factors (in particular physical activity and further health-related characteristics) that impact on older adults' SOC.

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