The disability paradox? Trajectories of well-being in older adults with functional decline

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The 'disability paradox' (DP) suggests that most older adults maintain subjective well-being (SWB) despite functional decline. However, this may depend the SWB component: positive affect (PA), negative/depressed affect (NA/DA) or life satisfaction (LS). We assessed trajectories of these components in older adults with substantial functional decline. Methods: Data originated from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (N = 2545) observed during 1992-2008. Using latent class growth analysis, we distinguished a group with substantial functional decline and examined their SWB trajectories and individual characteristics. Results: The DP occurred more frequently for DA (Men:73%, Women:77%) and LS (Men:14%, Women:83%) than for PA (Men:26%, Women:17%). Higher perceived control (mastery) emerged as the most consistent factor associated with higher odds of the DP. Discussion: We provide a nuanced view of the DP, shifting the question from whether it exists to for which dimension of SWB and for whom it is more or less apparent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-137
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of aging and health
Issue number1-2
Early online date17 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Latent Class Analysis
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • longitudinal
  • negative affect
  • physical functioning
  • positive affect

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