Advertisement

Psychological markers of longevity in Sardinian centenarians: the impact of developmental factors and social desirability

  • Maria Chiara FastameEmail author
  • Maria Pietronilla Penna
  • Paul Kenneth Hitchcott
Original Article
  • 11 Downloads

Abstract

A body of research documented that the study of mental health of the oldest individuals may contribute to understand the psychological characteristics of longevity. This study had two related aims. First, to fully characterize the psychological health of Sardinian elders in the very late adult span. Second, to determine the psychological health of long-lived individuals (i.e., centenarians) from this population. Three gender-matched age groups (octogenarian, nonagenarian, centenarian) of cognitively healthy, community dwelling adults were recruited in Sardinia, an Italian island characterized by higher levels of longevity. Comparisons of total and sub-scale levels of psychological well-being and depressive symptomatology were made while controlling for social desirability. There were few differences in any index of psychological health between the groups; only a decrease in the coping strategies sub-scale of psychological well-being was observed between the centenarians and the octogenarians. Social desirability was differentially associated with specific dimensions of depressive symptoms and psychological well-being. These findings highlight that there is minimal age-related decline in the psychological health of a longevous population, even among its very oldest members. The present outcomes suggest that older Sardinians represent an advantageous population for the investigation of the psychological markers of longevity, since they demonstrate positive adaptation to the challenges (e.g., changes related to their social network) of very late adulthood.

Keywords

Centenarian Longevity Psychological well-being Depression Social desirability 

Notes

Funding

This work was partially supported by the Sardinia Regional Government under grant “CRP-78543” entitled “Invecchiamento attivo in Sardegna: quali fattori influenzano il benessere psicologico negli anziani?” [Active aging in Sardinia: What factors influence psychological well-being in the elderly?]”

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.

Ethical approval

The ethical committee of the Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, Philosophy of the University of Cagliari approved this study.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was given by all participants prior to participation.

References

  1. 1.
    Poulain M, Herm A, Pes GM (2013) The Blue Zones: areas of exceptional longevity around the world. Vienna Year Popul Res 11:87–108.  https://doi.org/10.1553/populationyearbook2013s87 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Martin P, Hagberg B, Poon LW (2012) Models for studying centenarians and healthy ageing. Asian J Gerontol Geriatr 7:14–18Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Willcox BJ, Willcox DC, Ferrucci L (2008) Secrets of healthy aging and longevity from exceptional survivors around the globe: lessons from octogenarians to supercentenarians. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 63:1181–1185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Fastame MC, Hitchcott PK, Mulas I et al (2018) Resilience in elders of the Sardinian Blue Zone: an explorative study. Behav Sci 8:30.  https://doi.org/10.3390/bs8030030 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fastame MC, Penna MP, Hitchcott PK (2015) Mental health in late adulthood: what can preserve it? Appl Res Qual Life 10:459–471.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-014-9323-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fastame MC, Penna MP, Rossetti ES (2014) Perceived cognitive efficiency and subjective well-being in late adulthood: The impact of developmental factors. J Adult Dev 21:173–180.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-014-9189-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hitchcott PK, Fastame MC, Langiu D et al (2017) Cognitive failures in late adulthood: the role of age, social context and depressive symptoms. PloS One 12:e0189683.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189683 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ryff CD, Dienberg Love GD, Urry HL et al (2006) Psychological well-being and ill-being: do they have distinct or mirrored biological correlates? Psychother Psychosom 75:85–95.  https://doi.org/10.1159/000090892 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Weich S, Brugha T, King M et al (2011) Mental well-being and mental illness: findings from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey for England 2007. Br J Psychiatry 199:23–28.  https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.111.091496 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Alexopoulos GS (2005) Depression in the elderly. Lancet 365:1961–1970.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(05)66665-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Chida Y, Steptoe A (2008) Positive psychological well-being and mortality: a quantitative review of prospective observational studies. Psychosom Med 70:741–756.  https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e31818105ba CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Steptoe A, Deaton A, Stone AA (2015) Subjective wellbeing, health, and ageing. Lancet 385:640–648.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61489-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hitchcott PK, Fastame MC, Penna MP (2018) More to Blue Zones than long life: positive psychological characteristics. Health Risk Soc 20:163–181.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13698575.2018.1496233 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gatz M, Hurwicz ML (1990) Are old people more depressed? Cross-sectional data on Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale factors. Psychol Aging 5:284–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Fastame MC, Hitchcott PK, Penna MP (2015) Do self-referent metacognition and residential context predict depressive symptoms across late-life span? A developmental study in an Italian sample. Aging Ment Health 19:698–704.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2014.962003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Fastame MC, Penna MP, Hitchcott PK (2015) Life satisfaction and social desirability across the late life span: what relationship? Qual Life Res 24:241–244.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-014-0750-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Fastame MC, Hitchcott PK, Penna MP (2018) The impact of leisure on mental health of Sardinian elderly from the ‘Blue Zone’: Evidence for ageing well. Aging Clin Exp Res 2:169–80.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-017-0768-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Fastame MC, Penna MP (2012) Does social desirability confound the assessment of self-reported measures of well-being and metacognitive efficiency in young and older adults? Clin Gerontol 36:95–112.  https://doi.org/10.1080/07317115.2012.749319 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Fastame MC, Hitchcott PK, Penna MP (2017) Does social desirability influence psychological well-being: perceived physical health and religiosity of Italian elders? A developmental approach. Aging Ment Health 21:348–353.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2015.1074162 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Radloff LS (1977) The CES-D Scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Appl Psychol Meas 1:385–401.  https://doi.org/10.1177/014662167700100306 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Clark VA, Aneshensel CS, Frerichs RR et al (1981) Analysis of effects of sex and age in response to items on the CES-D scale. Psychiatry Res 5:171–181.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0165-1781(81)90047-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Lutz W, Sanderson W, Scherbov S (2008) The coming acceleration of global population ageing. Nature 451:716–719.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nature06516 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Poulain M, Pes G, Salaris L (2011) A population where men live as long as women: Villagrande Strisaili, Sardinia. J Aging Res.  https://doi.org/10.4061/2011/153756 Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Poon LW, Clayton GM, Martin P et al (1992) The Georgia centenarian study. Int J Aging Hum Dev 34:1–17.  https://doi.org/10.2190/8M7H-CJL7-6K5T-UMFV CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Fastame MC, Penna MP (2014) Psychological well-being and metacognition in the fourth age: an explorative study in an italian oldest old sample. Aging Ment Health 18:648–652.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2013.866635 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Jopp D, Rott C (2006) Adaptation in very old age: exploring the role of resources, beliefs, and attitudes for centenarians’ happiness. Psychol Aging 21:266–280.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0882-7974.21.2.266 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ladin K (2008) Risk of Late-Life Depression Across 10 European Union Countries: Deconstructing the Education Effect. J Aging Health 20:653–670.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0898264308321002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Hagberg B, Bauer Alfredson B, Poon LW et al (2001) Cognitive functioning in centenarians: a coordinated analysis of results from three countries. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 56:P141–P151.  https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/56.3.P141 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Folstein MF, Folstein SE, McHugh PR (1975) Mini-mental state. A practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. J Psychiatr Res 12:189–198.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-3956(75)90026-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hitchcott PK, Fastame MC, Ferrai J et al (2017) Psychological well-being in italian families: an exploratory approach to the study of mental health across the adult life span in the blue zone. Eur J Psychol 13:441–454.  https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v13i3.1416 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    De Beni R, Borella E, Carretti B et al (2007) BAC: Benessere e Abilità Cognitive nell’età Adulta e Avanzata. Wellness and Cognitive Abilities in the Advanced and Adult Age]. Firenze: Organizzazioni Speciali, [BACGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Fava GA (1983) Assessing depressive symptoms across cultures: Italian validation of the CES-D self-rating scale. J Clin Psychol 39:249–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hertzog C, Van Alstine J, Usala PD et al (1990) Measurement properties of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) in older populations. Psychol Assess 2:64–72.  https://doi.org/10.1037/1040-3590.2.1.64 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Crowne DP, Marlowe D (1960) A new scale of social desirability independent of psychopathology. J Consulting Psychol 24:349–354.  https://doi.org/10.1037/h0047358 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Kessler RC, Foster C, Webster PS et al (1992) The relationship between age and depressive symptoms in two national surveys. Psychol aging 7:119–126.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0882-7974.7.1.119 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Gilley DW, Wilson RS, Fleischman DA et al (1995) Impact of Alzheimer’s-type dementia and information source on the assessment of depression. Psychol Assess 7:42–48.  https://doi.org/10.1037/1040-3590.7.1.42 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, PhilosophyUniversity of CagliariCagliariItaly

Personalised recommendations