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THE PARADOX OF AGING AND HEALTH-RELATED QUALITY OF LIFE: RESULTS FROM THE HEALTHY AGING LONGITUDINAL STUDY IN TAIWAN (BASELINE)

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Abstract

The "paradox of aging" is a term coined by researchers to label the counterintuitive phenomenon that older adults maintain high levels of subjective well-being in spite of considerable decrements in objective health status. The present study extended the literature on this phenomenon to Asian contexts by examining age trajectories of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and objective health in a large and nationally representative sample of Taiwanese participants (n = 3,856) aged 55 and older. We found divergent cross-sectional age trajectories for objective health (sensory and physical functioning) as well physical (PCS) and mental components (MCS) of HRQoL (as assessed with the 12-item Short-Form Health Survey; SF-12). Both PCS and objective health were negatively associated with age, but this effect was weaker for PCS. MCS, in turn, showed a positive association with chronological age. Consistent with prior research on the paradox of aging, the association between objective health and PCS became weaker with age. For MCS, associations with objective health did not vary by age, and controlling for objective health strengthened the observed positive association between MCS and age. These findings add to prior evidence indicating that—in spite of objective health decrements—subjective HRQoL is maintained in later life. However, these patterns appear to vary for mental and physical components of HRQoL, and future research is needed to explore the underlying mechanisms.

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2018-08-30

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cohort study; health-related quality of life; Healthy Aging Longitudinal Study in Taiwan; the paradox of aging; Gerontology; Aging; subjective well-being; Developmental psychology

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Loeckenhoff, Corinna E.

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Wethington, Elaine

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Human Development

Degree Name

M.A., Human Development

Degree Level

Master of Arts

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dissertation or thesis

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