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Predictors of longevity in an elderly institutionalized population

Memorial University of Newfoundland
Publication Date
  • Economics
  • Education


A number of salient predictors of longevity, other than age and gender, have emerged from research on samples of elderly community dwellers. In particular, high levels of cognitive function, high socioeconomic status, high self-health ratings and activity levels, and low incidence of lifestress all predict longevity in this population. In contrast to the abundant research on predictors of longevity in elderly community dwellers, there is a paucity of research on predictors of longevity in the elderly institutionalized. This is problematic, as findings on community- dwelling elderly may not generalize to other samples of elderly, such as elderly institution dwellers. Volunteer samples of elderly from longitudinal studies have been shown to differ even from other community dwellers in cognitive function and socioeconomic status (higher for volunteers). -- Therefore, a non-demented institutionalized elderly sample from all major institutions in Newfoundland was retrospectively examined on two measurement occasions, within 12 months of each other. One hundred and fifty-six subjects between the ages of 65 and 95 years were available at first measurement (Wave One), and 122 of the same subjects were alive and agreed to be retested on a second occasion 12 months later (Wave Two). Dimensions of health, personality, quality of life and lifestress were measured, and relevant demographic data were analysed. Time-to-death (i.e. time from initial measurement until subject's death) was used to classify all subjects. Three comparisons of data were made: 1) retestees were compared to non-retestees (i.e., subjects who were alive at retest but were not retested), 2) the full sample was compared on the basis of time-to-death, and 3) the retestees alone were compared on the basis of time-to-death. Analyses of Variance were computed for all comparisons. -- Several predictors of longevity emerged from this study: retestee status (i.e. being retested), higher activity levels and higher lifestress were the main predictors of longevity in the institutionalized sample. Fewer years of education were also related to death, for the group surviving between three and six years after initial testing. Findings were compared to previous research findings, and suggestions for future research were made.

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