Abstract This prospective correlational study looked at the relationship between optimism, perception of stress, coping, and adaptation in women over the age of 60. One hundred and nine women took part in two interviews, separated by a minimum interval of 3 months. Although optimism was found to be correlated with most of the dependent variables (DVs), hierarchical regression analyses revealed that it lost its predictive power when the effects of the covariates, particularly Time 1 measures of the DVs and neuroticism, were statistically removed. The most important predictors of coping, distress, and life satisfaction were initial measures of these variables, followed by neuroticism. The discussion of the findings focuses on the need to clarify the construct of optimism. It supports the idea that optimism may be better conceptualized as a two-dimensional construct (optimism/pessimism), subsumable under two of the ‘Big Five’ personality factors, namely Extraversion and Neuroticism, respectively.