Accelerated increase and relative decrease in subjective age and changes in attitudes toward own aging over a 4-year period: results from the Health and Retirement Study
The passage of time may force people to adjust their subjective age in response to changes in their attitudes toward own aging (ATOA). Although positive associations have been found between well-being and both positive ATOA and younger subjective age, the relationships between changes in these measures have not been examined yet. We expected (1) a decrease in positive ATOA to be associated with an accelerated increase in subjective age and (2) an increase in positive ATOA to be associated with a relative decrease in subjective age. Participants were individuals and their spouses, aged 50 and over, recruited by the Health and Retirement Study, who provided responses to a question concerning one’s subjective age in 2008 and 2012 (n = 4174). A change in subjective age over the two waves was regarded as (1) an accelerated increase if it was greater than 5 years (36.2 % of the sample); (2) a relative decrease (39.1 %), if it was less than the 3 years; (3) no change if it did not comply with criteria 1 or 2 (24.7 %). A decrease in positive ATOA over the two waves resulted in an accelerated increase in subjective age, and an increase resulted in a relative decrease in subjective age. Older age and more physical impairments and depressive symptoms in 2012 compared with 2008 were associated with an accelerated increase in subjective age. Our findings emphasize the consequences ATOA might have on subjective age experiences, and the need to improve them.
KeywordsAttitudes toward own aging Health and Retirement Study Older adults Subjective age
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