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UofL researcher and team explore broader definition of successful aging
Date:5/20/2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. An aging population poses challenges for governments around the globe as nations grapple with how to satisfy the physical, social and economic needs of older adults. About 126 million adults 65 years and older live in China - the country with the largest population of senior citizens, while 40 million adults 65 years and older live in the United States.

In an article published today in Journal of Transcultural Nursing, University of Louisville School of Nursing assistant professor Valerie Lander McCarthy, PhD, RN; Ji Hong, MSN, a visiting scholar from Shandong University, China; and Jiying Ling, PhD, MS, RN, post-graduate fellow, Michigan State University College of Nursing, explore whether a broader definition of successful aging could positively influence research, clinical practice and health policy in the United States and China.

McCarthy argues it is unrealistic to measure positive aging solely on good physical and cognitive function and active social engagement, as traditionally defined by J. W. Rowe, M.D., and Robert L. Kahn.

"In reality the definition applies to only about 10-percent of the older adult population, then older adults feel guilty when they get sick because they think they are not succeeding and in the U.S. succeeding is important. In China, individual success is not as important, but the negative effect of the cost to care for the older population is a major problem," McCarthy said.

Even in the presence of chronic illness and functional limitations, older adults still report aging successfully, McCarthy said. She concludes nurse scientist Meredith Flood's definition is most accurate. Flood describes successful aging as a person's ability to cope and adapt while maintaining a sense of connectedness and meaning in life.

Building on Flood's ideas, McCarthy's own studies have found transcendence - a sense of meaning, well-being and life satisfaction, to be the best predic
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Contact: Julie Heflin
julie.heflin@louisville.edu
502-852-7987
University of Louisville
Source:Eurekalert  

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