Attributes of age-identity

Bowling, Ann, See-Tai, Sharon, Ebrahim, Shah, Gabriel, Zehava and Solanki, Priyha (2005) Attributes of age-identity. Ageing and Society, 25(4), pp. 479-500. ISSN (print) 0144-686X


Chronological age can be an unsatisfactory method of discriminating between older people. The lay concept of how old people actually feel may be more useful. The aim of the analyses reported in this paper was to investigate indicators of age-identity (or subjective age) among a national random sample of people aged 65 or more years living at home in Britain. Information was initially collected by home interview and a follow-up postal questionnaire 12-18 months later. The age that respondents felt was a more sensitive indicator than chronological age of many indicators of the respondents' health, psychological and social characteristics. Multiple regression analysis showed that baseline health and functional status, and reported changes in these at follow-up, explained 20.4 per cent of the variance in self-perceived age. Adding baseline mental health (anxiety/depression), feelings and fears about ageing at follow-up explained a further 0.8 per cent of the variance, making the total variance explained 21.2 per cent. It is concluded that measures of physical health and functional status and their interactions influenced age-identity. Mental health status and psychological perceptions made a small but significant additional contribution.

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