This study investigates life satisfaction in relation to impending death among the oldest-old using overall disease load, self-rated health, and personality as interacting covariates of level and change. We used data from a sample of 370 healthy individuals who completed the Life Satisfaction Index-Z at four measurement occasions during a 6-year period in the Swedish OCTO-Twin study of individuals aged 80 and older. Growth curve analyses showed a linear decrease in life satisfaction as individuals approached death. The decrease was not related to level or change in self-rated health and disease load. High disease load was, however, related to lower levels of life satisfaction, but, this association was moderated by locus of control, such that those with high disease load and high locus of control did not show lower life satisfaction. Poor self-rated health was also associated with lower life satisfaction, but, this association was moderated by neuroticism, such that those with poor-rated health and low neuroticism did not show lower live satisfaction. Personality factors such as locus of control and neuroticism can influence the association between health and life satisfaction. The findings suggest further investigations of the role of personality characteristics in late life satisfaction and whether interventions aimed to increase personal control can improve life satisfaction in old age.
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This study was supported by National Institutes of Health; NIA (AG 08861) and Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research; FAS 2002-0659, FAS 2007-0554, FAS 2006-1506.
Responsible Editor: H.-W. Wahl.
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Berg, A.I., Hassing, L.B., Thorvaldsson, V. et al. Personality and personal control make a difference for life satisfaction in the oldest-old: findings in a longitudinal population-based study of individuals 80 and older. Eur J Ageing 8, 13–20 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-011-0181-9