Adapting to Aging: Older People Talk About Their Use of Selection, Optimization, and Compensation to Maximize Well-being in the Context of Physical Decline
Journals of Gerontology: Series B
Oxford University Press (OUP) / Gerontological Society of America
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Objectives: Selection, Optimization, and Compensation (SOC) may contribute to successful aging by helping older people maximize well-being in the context of physical decline. To explore this hypothesis, and to investigate the potential for narrative analysis to improve understanding of SOC, we analyze interviews conducted with 15 members of the 6-Day Sample, a cohort of Scots born in 1936. Method: Interviewees were chosen based on their physical function and well-being scores. Interviews were analyzed to investigate “SOC talk,” that is, older people’s talk about SOC behaviors in everyday life. Types and amounts of SOC talk were quantified, and talk was narratively analyzed. We hypothesized that older people who engaged in more SOC talk would have higher well-being. Results: Older people who engaged in high levels of SOC talk had high well-being despite low physical function. Those who engaged in little SOC talk had low well-being despite higher physical function. Discussion: The concept of successful aging is valuable in part because of its narrative quality: One must strive to keep one’s life story developing despite physical decline and other losses. We provide evidence, from the perspectives of older people themselves, of the ways in which SOC may play a role in that process.
The authors were supported by a Research Council UK Life Long Health and Wellbeing Programme grant (MRC G1001401/1). I. D. Deary and C. E. Brett are supported by the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, part of the cross-council Life Long Health and Wellbeing Initiative (MR/K026992/1). Funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC) is gratefully acknowledged, as is the valuable contribution of Roona Simpson.
This is the final version of the article. Available from OUP via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 72 (2), pp. 351 - 361