Emotional vitality among disabled older women: The Women's Health and Aging Study

Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, Jack M. Guralnik, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Judith D. Kasper, Luigi Ferrucci, Linda P. Fried

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OBJECTIVE: To examine correlates of high overall level of emotional functioning (emotional vitality) in disabled older women. DESIGN: A community-based study: The Women's Health and Aging Study. POPULATION: A total of 1002 moderately to severely disabled women aged 65 and older living in the community. MEASUREMENTS: Emotional vitality was defined as having a high sense of personal mastery, being happy, and having low depressive symptomatology and anxiety. Correlations with demographics, health status, and social context were examined. RESULTS: Despite their physical disabilities, 35% of the 1002 disabled older women were emotionally vital. The percent of emotionally vital women declined with increasing severity of disability. After adjustment for disability status, a significantly increased likelihood for being emotionally vital was found for black race (OR = 1.69) and for having higher income (OR = 1.77), better cognition (OR = 2.36), no vision problems (OR = 1.61), adequate emotional support (OR = 2,54), and many face-to-face contacts (OR = 1.64). Having more than one negative life event reduced the likelihood of emotional vitality (OR = 0.57). CONCLUSION: A substantial proportion of even the most disabled older women can be described as emotionally vital. Findings also suggest that emotional vitality is not solely a function of stable, enduring individual characteristics but that health status, disability, and sociodemographic context also have an influence on emotional vitality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-815
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes

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