Objective: Self-perceptions of aging (SPA) are argued to be an indicator of the ability to adapt to heath decline in late life. Our objective was to examine the influence of psychological resources in maintaining positive self-perceptions of aging in the face of declining health in older adults. Methods: Time-varying change in health (medical conditions), physical functioning (ADLs), and psychological resources (expectancy of control and self-esteem) on change in SPA were examined over 16 years (5 waves) in a large representative sample (N = 1569) of older adults (65 + years at baseline) from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging. Results: Multilevel structural equation models revealed mediating effects of psychological resources at the within-person level for the relationship between decline in ADLs and SPA. At the between-person level, the relationship between medical conditions and SPA was not mediated by psychological resources, whereas ADLs and SPA were shown to be indirectly associated through self-esteem and expectancy of control. Conclusions: Results demonstrate that maintaining self-esteem and an expectancy of personal control can buffer the effects of declining ADLs on perceptions of aging. Findings have clinical implications regarding psychological interventions aimed at improving resilience in older adults, which may ultimately increase health outcomes and quality of life.
- Mediating multilevel structural equation models
- Psychological resources
- Self-perceptions of aging