Positive ageing. Objective, subjective, and combined outcomes

Rocio Fernandez-Ballesteros


Positive aging and other related terms (optimal, healthy, successful, active, productive aging) are viewed as scientific concepts, most of them operationally described by a broad set of bio-psycho-social factors, assessed through objective and subjective indicators, as well as being closely related to lay concepts reported cross-culturally by older persons. From a semantic perspective most of these terms emphasize a diversity of positive conditions across the aging process and during old age, such as physical fitness and health, optimal cognitive functioning, positive emotional states, and social involvement. Three important methodological issues emerge from the field: (1) although it is generally considered a multidimensional concept there are also researchers who reduce positive aging to just one of its components, (2) moreover, those components can be assessed by objective or/and subjective indicators; and, finally, (3) this conceptual and methodological diversity determines that the prevalence of positive aging reported is extremely broader. Since empirical definition of any scientific concept requires consensus, this paper discusses several definitions of aging with reference to the results yielded by the ELEA Study (Longitudinal Study of Active Aging).Results support a multidimensional concept of positive aging, composed by objective and subjective measures, with a similar structure to well considered definitions of positive aging: health, cognition, activity, positive affect, and physical fitness are the major domains for aging well and this structure is not affected by age or gender. Also, when prevalence of aging well is calculated through simple and multi-domain measure assessed by objective and subjective indicators, multidomains measures show more realistic results.

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KEYWORDS: optimal, successful, productive, active, healthy aging, aging well, subjective and objective measures.

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ISSN 1832-7931
Swinburne University of Technology