Persistent Deterioration of Functioning (PDF) and change in well-being in older persons


Background and aims: It is often assumed that aging is accompanied by diverse and constant functional and cognitive decline, and it is therefore surprising that the well-being of older persons does not appear to decline in the same way. This study investigates longitudinally whether well-being in older persons changes due to Persistent Deterioration of Functioning (PDF). Methods: Data were collected in the context of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). Conditions of PDF are persistent decline in cognitive functioning, physical functioning and increase in chronic diseases. Measurements of well-being included life satisfaction, positive affect, and valuation of life. T-tests were used to analyse mean difference scores for well-being, and univariate and multivariate regression analyses were performed to examine changes in three well-being outcomes in relation to PDF. Results: Cross-sectional analyses showed significant differences and associations between the two PDF subgroups and non-PDF for well-being at T3. In longitudinal analyses, we found significant decreases in and associations with well-being over time in respondents fulfilling one PDF condition (mild PDF). For respondents fulfilling two or more PDF conditions (severe PDF), longitudinally no significant associations were found. Conclusions: Cognitive aspects of well-being (life satisfaction and valuation of life) and the affective element (positive affect) of well-being appear to be influenced negatively by mild PDF, whereas well-being does not seem to be diminished in persons with more severe PDF. This may be due to the ability to accept finally the inevitable situation of severe PDF.

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Correspondence to Angèle A. G. C. Jonker Msc.

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Jonker, A.A.G.C., Comijs, H.C., Knipscheer, K.C.P.M. et al. Persistent Deterioration of Functioning (PDF) and change in well-being in older persons. Aging Clin Exp Res 20, 461–468 (2008).

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Key words

  • Health
  • life satisfaction
  • older-people
  • Persistent Deterioration of Functioning
  • positive affect and well-being