Objectives: Recent works have focused on how older adults view their own aging process, and the effect of these views on late-life health, yet clinical samples were underexplored. Hence, this study examined the relationships between views on aging and daily mental health among older adults undergoing rehabilitation following osteoporotic fractures and cerebrovascular events. Daily fluctuations in patients' mental health were examined in relation to the interactive effect of two pertinent views on aging, subjective age (i.e., how old individuals feel like) and age awareness (i.e., the extent to which individuals feel that their age plays a role in their overall view of themselves).
Method: 170 older adult patients (mean age=78.0, SD=7.45, 65.7% women) in several geriatric centers reported their daily subjective age, psychological distress, and wellbeing several times across rehabilitation, resulting in total 738 observations. Results: Multilevel models showed that on days patients felt younger, they reported lower psychological distress and higher wellbeing. Time lagged analyses further showed reciprocal effects between subjective age and mental health: subjective age in the previous observation predicted mental health indices in the next observation and vice versa. Finally, the subjective age-mental health covariance was stronger among patients high on age awareness. Discussion: The suddenness and brutality of acute medical events such as hip fracture or cerebrovascular event highlight subjective age as an important factor in patients' mental health, especially among those more attentive to their age. These findings suggest that practitioners should consider incorporating interventions focused on patients' views on aging during rehabilitation.
Amit Shrira, Bar-Ilan University, Israel